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  [Discuss] SpaceX Starship as Artemis HLS

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] SpaceX Starship as Artemis HLS
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-16-2021 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Please use this topic to discuss the SpaceX Starship human landing system being developed for NASA's Artemis program and the return of astronauts to the moon's surface.

David C
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posted 04-16-2021 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations SpaceX. Starship has a real retro Chesley Bonestell look about it.

SkyMan1958
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posted 04-16-2021 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations to SpaceX! Obviously there are a bunch of hurdles ahead. I wish them well.

I was amazed that their winning bid was 2.89 billion dollars. Just think of how many billions have been spent on Orion alone (which I realize is, at least in part, a jobs program).

I realize the lunar Starship is different from the "standard" Starship, but I wonder how much of NASA awarding SpaceX the HLS was a way for NASA to sneak in some funding for Starship/Super Heavy. I have absolutely no problem with that if indeed it was part of the case, as a fully functioning Starship/Super Heavy would be revolutionary for human spaceflight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-16-2021 07:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was no additional money hidden in the award for Super Heavy or additional uses of Starship. The $2.89 billion was what SpaceX said it needed to fly the test flights and demonstration mission.

NASA ranked SpaceX's and Blue Origin's technical approaches to be equally acceptable. SpaceX edged out Blue Origin in its management approach and in its price. (Dynetics ranked behind Blue Origin.)

Headshot
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posted 04-16-2021 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did NASA establish any firm timetable for SpaceX? I hope they are not going to let Musk set the schedule as his record of meeting deadlines is suspect at best.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-16-2021 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The original RFP was working off the 2024 date that NASA was working towards for the Artemis program. NASA said today that it is conducting its own internal schedule review and that it will be monitoring SpaceX's progress, but there was no required date in the contract.

BA002
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posted 04-17-2021 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BA002   Click Here to Email BA002     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I personally thought Blue Origin would have the best shot, bringing together so much legacy technology. Obviously if Starship succeeds as advertised it will offer a step beyond that legacy technology so maybe it holds the greatest promise. But to be quite honest, the picture of it on the lunar surface so far reminds me mostly of the first sketches of what Direct Ascent looked like in the early sixties and how we now look back on that, incredulous that anyone could ever have seriously contemplated that.

I have great admiration for the Falcon and Crew Dragon projects that do deliver now what seemed like science fiction only a few years ago and I thoroughly hope that Elon Musk will surprise us once again. But somehow to me this whole Starship project so far seems too good to be true, like an impossible dream.

star61
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posted 04-17-2021 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if this is possibly a precursor to NASA ultimately dropping SLS? Starship is appearing to answer a lot of different requirements. If it works as a moon lander in part and wholly independent and a Mars ship, what use SLS/Orion?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-17-2021 02:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's leadership has said that when commercial vehicles, such as Starship, are mature, then will be the time to talk about using them to replace other options.

Until that point, the agency is not relying on any one option, learning from the lessons of past programs, when one technical issue or accident has grounded all U.S. human spaceflight.

SkyMan1958
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posted 04-18-2021 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm hopeful the $2.9 billion will speed up (lunar) Starship/SuperHeavy development. However, I'm somewhat concerned that given SpaceX's development theory is to move fast, break things and learn from the mistakes, that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, will start holding all sorts of hearings because, "These taxpayer funded spacecraft keep blowing up."

Needless to say, I believe in SpaceX' development theory, and wonder if this particular issue might cramp their style.

Delta7
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posted 04-18-2021 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems to me it would need to land on a pretty flat level plane being that tall. I would have to imagine it wouldn't take much of a Leaning Tower Of Pisa effect to fall over. But I'm not an engineer...

Blackarrow
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posted 04-18-2021 08:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is this not a one-off version? It doesn't need to be as tall as a "Starship" designed for a large crew. Why could it not be half the height of the full-scale Starship?

oly
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posted 04-18-2021 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The current Starship iteration uses 17 ring segments to make up the fuselage. It may be feasible to reduce the number of segments as a way so shortening the structure. Once they figure out the fuel mass requirements they could recalculate the tank volume requirements and scale it from there.

At the moment SpaceX is rapidly prototyping both the flight system and the manufacturing system. Once they identify what method they believe will work, they will have a better idea of the vehicle mass.

Blackarrow
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posted 06-04-2021 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do we yet know how the SpaceX Starship which will land the next American astronauts on the Moon will actually get to lunar orbit? I haven't seen this explained anywhere.

I'm assuming it will be launched to the Moon on a SpaceX "Super Heavy" booster, but that means developing not only a flight-rated Starship but also a flight-rated Super Heavy. It would be great to see the world's biggest-ever rocket getting off the ground, but it seems a tall order to get the whole Super Heavy/Starship stack fully flightworthy in 3 years.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-04-2021 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX is planning to launch the Starship HLS on Super Heavy. Once in Earth orbit, the HLS will dock with a propellant depot (launched and filled by multiple Starship and Super Heavy launches) to refuel before heading to the moon.

SpaceX is planning the first orbital flight of its Spaceship and Super Heavy stack for later this year. A launch pedestal is under construction at Boca Chica and (at least) two Super Heavy test articles have been assembled.

Blackarrow
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posted 06-05-2021 01:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In other words, delivering the Starship HLS to lunar orbit requires not one but several successful Super Heavy launches and a successful automated refuelling operation in Earth orbit.

It also means that the Starship HLS must leave Earth orbit with enough propellant for "TLI" and "LOI" and the descent burn and the ascent burn. In Apollo terms it will be S-IVB, CSM and LM ascent and descent stages combined. (I wonder what John Houbolt would have made of that?)

All of the above looks very daunting, although we have often seen SpaceX do daunting.

Although the Starship HLS will initially be an integral part of a "Lunar Orbit Rendezvous" mission concept, it looks to me that after that demonstration lunar landing, SpaceX intends to abandon LOR in favour of a sort of Earth Orbit Rendezvous mission profile, with the muscle provided by what sounds rather like the old "Nova" booster.

I'm not passing judgment: time passes and things change. I wish them well in their efforts - they clearly have the bit firmly between the teeth!

oly
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posted 06-05-2021 08:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
but that means developing not only a flight-rated Starship but also a flight-rated Super Heavy.
If NASA and the other authorities require SpaceX to demonstrate the same capabilities and meet the same criteria that they were required to show for crew-rating of Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon, SpaceX will have to show design maturity, freeze the design, and fly a set number of mission before human rating can be achieved.

What requirements SpaceX will have to provide for launch abort would be nice to know, as well as the magic numbers required to satisfy authorities that they consider the system safe to carry crew.

Remembering the effort and time put into developing the Dragon launch abort system, the parachute system (and the many drop tests), and the number of flights after the block 6 design freeze of Falcon 9, knowing what limits NASA have for Starship and Super Heavy would help us put things into perspective.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-05-2021 10:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA does not need to human-rate Super Heavy, because it is not using the booster to launch astronauts. Artemis crews will launch on the Space Launch System (SLS).

Super Heavy will be used to launch the uncrewed Starship HLS, which won't receive a crew until docking with Orion (or on later missions, the Gateway) in lunar orbit. Thus, only Starship HLS needs to be human-rated and the requirements for such are different than for an Earth-based launch vehicle.

oly
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posted 06-05-2021 10:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
I wonder what John Houbolt would have made of that?
Houbolt, like others, determined that with that capabilities America had at the time, LOR was the best way to achieve the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Super Heavy and Starship are not designed to achieve that singular goal. They are designed to for a different profile. Super Heavy is designed to lift great mass to space, be it cargo, crewed vehicle, or fuel.

Starship is designed as an interplanetary transport vehicle, and a cargo version has also been suggested. SpaceX has always said that Mars its main priority, going to the moon just happens to also work.

The requirement for having to launch a spacecraft on one launch, and fuel supply on another, can't be compared to the Apollo Saturn days, because the SpaceX design reuses the heavy launch vehicle. In fact, the same launch vehicle could be used for both launches using the SpaceX design. The spacecraft can also be reused, which is a paradigm shift in thinking compared to Houbolt's day.

Imagine standing at the Saturn V Centre in Florida, looking at the mighty Saturn V launch vehicle, knowing that all but the small capsule at the top is either lost to the ocean, to space, or smashed on the Moon. SpaceX plan to use the whole thing again and again.

Imagine every time you drive your car, catch a bus, or ride the train to work, you had to buy an new vehicle. Want to go to the shops, but a new car. Want to go on a holiday, buy a new car. Take the kids to school, buy a new car, forgot something at the shops, you guessed it...

What SpaceX is trying to achieve is the potential to take an airliner used on the New York to London route, charter it for a flight to the Moon, and then put it back to work on the trans Atlantic route. The first crewed mission to the Moon may be by a vehicle dedicated for a single purpose, but the concept goes way beyond what Houbolt described.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-06-2021 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by oly:
SpaceX plan to use the whole thing again and again.
The Starship HLS is an expendable, one-way only vehicle. It will fly to the moon, bring astronauts to the surface, return them to orbit and then either re-land or crash into the moon.

SpaceX has no stated plans to return Starship HLS to Earth, though it could become the basis for a moon base (or provide some of the raw materials to build such on the moon).

SpaceAholic
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posted 06-06-2021 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Littering the moon with accumulating HLS debris isn't going to be palatable — am certain Musk will either implement a recycling strategy to exploit the stage once expended or seek an alternative method for jettison to heliocentric orbit.

NukeGuy
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posted 06-06-2021 11:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NukeGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Without a LES, it's hard to see how NASA would allow Starship/Super Heavy to be used to launch astronauts.

Blackarrow
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posted 06-07-2021 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We had this debate some weeks ago: it surely depends on how you see the mission. If it's basically a test flight, the test pilot astronauts are prepared to take reasonable* and calculated risks to advance the program, just as Young and Crippen did on STS-1.

For the first four shuttle flights, the two astronauts had ejector seats for limited protection. After that, the seats were immobilized or not present at all. Flight 51L showed the nature of the risk, but NASA flew another 110 shuttle missions without further launch failures, and without any "launch escape system."

I'm not aware of any plans SpaceX might have for some kind of LES during the "pioneering" phase of Super Heavy/Starship crewed development, but I assume the ultimate goal will be to achieve the level of reliability seen in modern airliners, where catastrophic launch accidents are considered sufficiently rare for passengers to be flown with no parachutes or other means of escape during a launch accident.

* I suspect, in retrospect, some might challenge the use of "reasonable" for the risks on STS-1!

quote:
Originally posted by oly:
...Houbolt, like others, determined that with the capabilities America had at the time, LOR was the best way to achieve the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
Houbolt was also convinced that the only way to land astronauts on Mars would be to use a similar mission profile, i.e. "Mars orbit rendezvous."

However, the key words in your post are "...with the capabilities America had at the time." As I recall, NASA's proposals for Mars landings in the 1980s would have employed "MOR" as have subsequent proposals or pipe-dreams. But SpaceX seem willing to embrace entirely new concepts, and the key to that seems to be new technology and modern computing power, none of which Houbolt could reasonably have predicted.

I like the analogy of having to buy a new car for every journey! I suppose SpaceX are just saying: "Let's just put more fuel in the tank and use the same car." It seems so obvious, but let's see if those 29 Raptor engines can all fire in unison — again, and again, and again...

YankeeClipper61
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posted 09-22-2022 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK. I've been thinking about this for a while, and I keep coming around to the same basic problems with the HLS...
  1. I think that the center of gravity (or center of mass) is too high. Wouldn't a landing vehicle with a lower profile be more stable?

  2. Are we really thinking that the landing crew will egress down an elevator to get to the surface? It seems like low hanging fruit on the tree of failures that the elevator would get stuck/damaged/not work.

  3. Fueling/Refueling the HLS in space. A concept that has not been proven yet, am I right?
Given these basic questions, I'm not sure that all of them can be accomplished by the time we're ready to launch Artemis III.

Headshot
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posted 09-22-2022 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Yankee Clipper61 100%. The three concerns he listed for the SpaceX HLS are spot on, as are his rankings.

I always thought that the Dynetics configuration for a lunar lander is the way to go. Very stable, low center of mass, exit hatch close to the surface.

GACspaceguy
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posted 09-22-2022 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As far as the cg goes if the vehicle is mostly tank with a crew compartment on top most of the mass would be engines/equipment and the cg maybe lower than it looks.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-22-2022 02:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was skeptical of the elevator concept, too, but then someone pointed out that similar devices are used by window washers about 1.5 million times a year.

Refueling in space has been demonstrated, but only on the small scale. SpaceX, though, believes it is not a major hurdle to overcome.

328KF
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posted 09-22-2022 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA didn't think that fueling a rocket on a launch pad in Florida would be a major hurdle either.

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