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May 29, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Tonight at 7pm PDT, after years in development, SpaceX will reveal a new manned version of the Dragon spacecraft. Elon Musk said that Dragon 2 will look like "a real alien spaceship", leading to speculation what it will looks like, including this artists interpretation at ExtremeTech. According to Musk, Dragon 2 will have larger windows for astronauts to see outside, and "landing legs that pop out of the bottom" and "side-mounted thruster pods" to allow for propulsive landings on land.
posted by stbalbach (127 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
If we're being completely honest, all I really want from a spaceship is for it to look cool. If it also flies, that's just gravy.
posted by aubilenon at 5:22 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Eh, that "artist's interpretation" is just someone's minor 'shoppin' of this image of the Normandy from Mass Effect. I mean, it would be cool as hell if the Dragon ][ looked like that but I think it's pretty unlikely.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:23 PM on May 29 [11 favorites]


I am disappointed by the lack of wood paneling and brass.
posted by humanfont at 5:30 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


Kind of unfair that somebody showed him what the real alien spaceships look like, his competitors must be annoyed.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:34 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


According to Musk, Dragon 2 will have larger windows for astronauts to see outside

Obligatory Right Stuff reference.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:52 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


I play RPGs with someone at SpaceX! I'm very excited for this!
posted by rebent at 6:03 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Is this going to be the actual craft, or just a rendering or something?
posted by curious nu at 6:05 PM on May 29


*plays KSP for the next hour, makes tiny capsules attached to a hundred boosters, calls it good*
posted by curious nu at 6:06 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


I play RPGs with someone at SpaceX! I'm very excited for this!

Not half as excited as the astronauts who will ride in the thing are about the the detail highlighted in bold!
posted by notyou at 6:07 PM on May 29


> Kind of unfair that somebody showed him what the real alien spaceships look like, his competitors must be annoyed.

Have you seen Musk interviewed in person? I don't think he is entirely human to begin with. In that creepy "one white cat short of a Bond Villian" kind of way.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:11 PM on May 29 [8 favorites]


*plays EVE for the next hour, builds a few spaceships myself, is never satisfied*
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:12 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Mission Control: Dragon 2, roll 15 to correct your attitude.

Rebent's Friend: Hee hee.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:12 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


That artist's interpretation is ridiculous. It's cool looking. But silly. I drew zillions of those on my Pee-Chees.

Alien spacecraft look like this. Maybe. Duh.
posted by notyou at 6:13 PM on May 29


When is it going to fly?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 PM on May 29


No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
posted by loquacious at 6:25 PM on May 29 [8 favorites]


*plays KSP for the next hour, makes tiny capsules attached to a hundred boosters, calls it good*

This mod adds a Space X rocketry to KSP, works good.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:28 PM on May 29


Also. I have to say that while I do not think Musk is right about Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars (and maybe other things, too, if I bothered to look), Elon Musk is right about how gazillionaires should be spending their time, money, talent, and effort (apparently: see previous qualification).
posted by notyou at 6:32 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


[blink]INITIALIZING LIVE STREAM...[/blink]
posted by BeerFilter at 6:47 PM on May 29


Man that audio is WAY down for the placeholder video.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:48 PM on May 29


notyou: Seriously. When I think about being Bill Gates or Elon Musk rich, I don't think about sex and drugs, or shiny cars and baubles and yachts (or even my own stability) I think about how positively and constructively disruptive I could be.

I think about alternative energy for everyone, putting a dent in inequality, in sending a million kids to school, clean water for millions.

Sometimes I also think about a volcano lair filled with Black Mesa or Tony Stark grade mad science and stuff, too. Or throwing a really big party.

On the other hand I walk past the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation building on a regular basis and I wonder why the drinking fountain outside is never on, why the one rain overhang in front of the guest center is blocked with concrete simulcra of bags of food aid wheat and books, how much all of those perfectly symmetrical and matching orchids in the lobby cost, why they have so many security guards and why the building looks like it's basically empty with the lights on all the time.

And I'm still not sure if SpaceX makes up for the badness that PayPal can be sometimes.
posted by loquacious at 6:49 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


Is there a Latin word for trampoline? They should name the first one that.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:58 PM on May 29


Is thing late, or am I calculating the time zone incorrectly?
posted by trackofalljades at 7:04 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Waiting...
posted by curious nu at 7:05 PM on May 29


I really, really love this post. It is worded in exactly the way that early-space-age futurists envisioned newspaper articles in the far-off techno-utopia of 2014. "A man has announced the successor to his company's popular first-generation spaceship. Called the Dragon 2, the new spaceship will boast improved features like bigger windows and more horsepower. A unique combination of thruster pods and convenient pop-out legs promise buttery-smooth landings for the whole family. In other news, crime is nonexistent, everyone has a good job, and an ailing Joseph Stalin died today within the confines of his unescapable, inexplicably tail-finned, all-bakelite prison cell."
posted by compartment at 7:05 PM on May 29 [20 favorites]


No, it was a dead screen until 18 minutes ago then they put up this animated SPACEX logo starfield placeholder. Someone please holler when it starts in case people's feeds are lagged.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:06 PM on May 29


All I'm getting is a funkadelic SpaceX base line.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:07 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


The elevator music they're playing is snazzy. I'll give them that....
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:07 PM on May 29


I think when it starts the actual audio might be REALLY LOUD so be ready to stab/slam/spin a voulume control someone in your personal data podling.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:08 PM on May 29


OMG it is full of stars.
posted by humanfont at 7:08 PM on May 29


VOLUME RISING
posted by BeerFilter at 7:10 PM on May 29


I'm freestyling to the funky space groove:

"1, 2, 3 and to the 4 . . ."
posted by jeremias at 7:11 PM on May 29


If those are stars, it looks like the spacecraft is going a light-year per second. Misleading advertising, or have they been keeping something secret?
posted by sfenders at 7:12 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


What time does this thing start, lunar standard time?
posted by klausman at 7:14 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


They realized with like 15 minutes 'till Live that they left some of the shots in the wrong anamorphic ratio. The new renders are being uploaded as we type.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:15 PM on May 29


All I'm getting is a funkadelic SpaceX base line.

The elevator music they're playing is snazzy. I'll give them that....
[sic]

I'm definitely getting more work done with that playing in the background.
posted by notyou at 7:16 PM on May 29


Ok screw it, I'm faking a dj set till it starts. First track is this: Foreign Beggars ft Donae'o - Flying to Mars (12th Planet's Martian Trapstep Remix)
posted by BeerFilter at 7:20 PM on May 29


So... freaking... hypnotic... I finished a beer 10 minutes ago and still haven't got up to get another one.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:20 PM on May 29


WHERE IS IT

I DEMAND A GIANT CUBE POWERED BY DREAMS
posted by middleclasstool at 7:20 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory??
posted by rlk at 7:21 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


This nice music is giving me time to catch up on my TwoDots game.
posted by msbutah at 7:21 PM on May 29


If Wes Anderson ever did a space opera, this music would be the soundtrack
posted by Ber at 7:21 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Yay...something happened!
posted by klausman at 7:22 PM on May 29


wake up
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:22 PM on May 29


DRAGONSIGN!!!
posted by BeerFilter at 7:22 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Right now Neil Tyson is trying to cheer NASA guys up by doing the White Man's Overbite to this
posted by middleclasstool at 7:22 PM on May 29


Man, Thievery Corporation has got to be tired of playing those same 16 bars over and over again.
posted by loquacious at 7:22 PM on May 29


Yay here we go
posted by middleclasstool at 7:22 PM on May 29


Yee-Haw!
posted by Ber at 7:23 PM on May 29


SPACE MADNESS!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:24 PM on May 29


Countdown~
posted by curious nu at 7:25 PM on May 29


Vectored thrusty rockit landings like in the old days!
posted by BeerFilter at 7:25 PM on May 29


Spaaaaaace Ghost!
posted by klausman at 7:25 PM on May 29


OBLIGATORY OOOHING!!!!!
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:25 PM on May 29


It uh.. it looks like a space capsule.
posted by curious nu at 7:25 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Wow. Space 2.0?
posted by BeerFilter at 7:25 PM on May 29


MORK CALLING ORSON

COME IN ORSON
posted by middleclasstool at 7:26 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


By that I mean it looks all rounded corners and smoothed edges to me.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:27 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Ah that's where the missing space shuttle nose went...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:27 PM on May 29


And we're off!
posted by notyou at 7:27 PM on May 29


Where are the nacelles?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:28 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


It's kind of Segwayish. The landing was kind of cool, though.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:29 PM on May 29


Spaceship!!!
posted by sevensixfive at 7:31 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


The landing was kind of cool, though.

Hopefully there's a parachute backup or something, because they're in for a bad way if a thruster decides it doesn't want to work. I realize if you hit the water with enough speed it's like hitting solid ground, but in this case it'd be.. you know.. actual solid ground, which has gotta be worse.
posted by curious nu at 7:32 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Why not glide? Isn't the fuel expensive to carry up and back?

Baby steps, again, I guess?
posted by notyou at 7:32 PM on May 29


I think the landing gear is made from IKEA's "Olov" stainless steel table legs.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:32 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Sol system's first fully printed engine!
posted by BeerFilter at 7:33 PM on May 29


There are indeed parachutes. It does an engine check before landing and deploys if there is a failure.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:33 PM on May 29


Hopefully there's a parachute backup or something...

Hopefully there's a parachute period. It's wasteful to not use one to slow down, it would save on fuel, which saves on launch weight, so there's more room for fat asses like me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:34 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


#MissedChances: Shoulda had Clooney and Bullock inside making out when the door opened.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:35 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


Mildly TARDISy on the inside
posted by middleclasstool at 7:35 PM on May 29


Those chairs look oddly flimsy (though I'm sure they're not)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:36 PM on May 29


Just how disruptive is SpaceX, really? Is an interesting question to me.

SpaceX makes money now (and will for the next few years) by delivering satellites into orbit. This is something we used to think of as a "government responsibility", but they aren't the first private company to do this for the government, and in fact they are suing to open up the bidding process which currently favors competitor United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, both companies that have been working in similar capacities for the government for decades). How does SpaceX expect to win out? Oldest model in the world: SpaceX will do the same job cheaper, using better technology and eventually economies of scale.

In addition to Musk, SpaceX investors are largely your standard institutional investors, the kind who have probably invested in a few "Tinder for Pets"/"Uber for Laundry"/"Slightly different flavor of ride-sharing" companies, and who will expect a return on their investment, probably via an IPO. In 2012 Musk indicated that an IPO could come as early as 2013 but those plans were delayed. SpaceX has the luxury of not needing public funding yet, but the likely reason for the delay is because revenue is still highly unpredictable as they bid for business (and worst: on the government's timetable).

SpaceX has some grand plans for the future. In the short term: Space Tourism, the implications of which I am ambivalent about (but again they aren't alone in that); in the long term the stated goal is Mars colonization. A lofty goal, but anytime Musk puts some numbers behind that plan (10 years, 80,000 colonists) it comes off as unrealistic. But at least all the while SpaceX is working on developing and testing real technology. In summary it's definitely better than a me-too photo app.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:36 PM on May 29


Ok, that interior looks freakin cool
posted by jeremias at 7:36 PM on May 29


I think I have something in my eye ...
posted by sevensixfive at 7:37 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Okay after that I start again with this track: Flux Pavilion - The Scientist
posted by BeerFilter at 7:38 PM on May 29


Not so much a service module as a solar array & maybe radiator holder.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:38 PM on May 29


I can't help it. I'm fifty-something and grew up with Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. This is giving me goosebumps.
posted by Ber at 7:39 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


The trunk is considerably longer, as well. I wouldn't be surprised if it's close to the cargo capacity of Dragon, since it looks like Dragon 2 is all about the crew.
posted by Punkey at 7:39 PM on May 29


Also, not just 3D printed engines - Inconel 3D printed engines. That has to be a seriously intense laser to sinter that.
posted by Punkey at 7:42 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Next track: Revolution (ShockOne remix)- R3hab, Nervo & Ummet Ozcan
posted by BeerFilter at 7:45 PM on May 29


I thought "3D printed rocket engine!!" A google search found this article dated yesterday:

SpaceX completes qualification test of 3D-printed SuperDraco thruster

"...direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), where complex metal structures are printed by using a laser to build the object out of metal powders one thin layer at a time."

The youtube engine test firing is at the bottom of the page.
posted by jjj606 at 7:46 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Ok, that was one of the most endearingly, awkwardly nerdy things I've ever seen and I've seen some shit.

"Uh, h-hi. S-paceship? So, uh. Yeah, n-new spaceship. Uh, 3D printer. I mean printed engine. I-inconel. C-cool? Cool. Uhm. Ok. Back to work, bye!"
posted by loquacious at 7:46 PM on May 29 [10 favorites]


Musk didn't seem to state it specifically (I don't believe), but he sounded as if no engine teardown or refurb would be needed between flights. Are the engines truly going to be that reliable?

Also, how many flights before the heat shield is toast? Can the heatshield be replaced or is the entire capsule done at that point?

The demo was great, and I don't mean to sound like Mr. Negative here, because I'm really pumped by this, but there are a lot of unanswered questions, IMHO. Seems like Musk could have at least stated what they were hoping for even if things end up changing.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:47 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Thinking about it, I guess this doesn't need one of those escape tower rockets.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:47 PM on May 29


How long until he prints his own Terminator?
posted by arcticseal at 7:48 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Insert, the engines actually should be that reliable, because there are precisely two moving parts in that system. The SuperDraco engines are hypergolic, running on nitrogen tetroxide and monomethylhydrozine, which means no ignition system. Plus, the rocket is pressure-fed, not pump-fed, and the turbopumps are what wears out by far the quickest on most rockets. So, all that moves on the SuperDraco setup is the valves to open the connection from the hypergol tanks to the rocket combustion chamber. The pressurized helium forces the fuel out of the tanks, and bam, rocket goes. So, all you need to do is test the valves to a few thousand cycles, and you know the reliability of the engine given how long the chamber can take continuous burning.
posted by Punkey at 7:55 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


Interesting.

It seems strange that they'd carry parachutes up and back while not planning to use them. Sure, pinpoint landing is nice, but modern steerable parachutes could enable that. My theory:

This thing is only incidentally able to land on Earth. This thing is designed to enter the atmosphere of and land on Mars, where you need to use parachutes and rockets to land.

As has been stated before, Elon Musk wants to die on Mars. Here's what he could do to make that happen:

1) Put a BA 330 into an Aldrin Cycler orbit.

2) When it swings by Earth every 2.5 years or so, send a Dragon or two up to dock with it, bringing 5-10 new one-way colonists. They live in the BA 330 for five months and then land on Mars in those same Dragons.

3) Build a habitat there.

4) After 10 years, the colony has 20-40 people, and who knows, maybe even a few native Martian children. If it's viable, more people come every cycle. Elon declares himself Emperor Musk I of Mars, First of his Name.
posted by Hatashran at 7:56 PM on May 29 [22 favorites]


Punkey: "Insert, the engines actually should be that reliable"

Thanks Punkey! Great info from you there.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:01 PM on May 29


Elon Musk Says SpaceX Making 'Progress' Toward Mars Colony
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


man the part where he gets in the capsule and sits down in the pilot's seat, that's TOTALLY the time for a surprise system malfunction that leaves Elon Musk terribly injured but also... transformed
posted by serif at 8:38 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Notice the way he switches back and forth between "spacecraft" (the more conventional term that NASA prefers) and "spaceship". Whenever he's referring to 'things in general that travel in space' he uses 'craft', but when he's talking specifically about his new baby, he calls it a "spaceship". That's important, they've set out to design and build a spaceship here, it's as much a cultural artifact, as it is a technological one.
posted by sevensixfive at 8:43 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Elon declares himself Emperor Musk I of Mars, First of his Name.
Is it too early to start planning the inevitable rebellion and usurpation?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:43 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to Space Elevators?
posted by empath at 8:52 PM on May 29


How long can it support seven people in space? Is there a toilet aboard? Food and water? The control stick is mounted up on the control, meaning the pilot has to reach for it, so will that present problems? What's the total mass to orbit? Mass limit for landing? When is the first test flight? Will future demos be more polished?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


The materials to build space elevators seem, like fusion, to be perpetually fifteen years in the future.
posted by Pyry at 8:56 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Nothing happened to Space elavators, they're still a lovely fantasy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:12 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


I don't like the use of touch screens for everything. Yeah it's pretty slick but the room for failure there seems really high. I don't know what system they're running or how robust it is, it seems too good looking to be durable, if that makes any sense.

*Other* than that yeah this is pretty nice. I'm excited.
posted by hellojed at 9:43 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


I wish them luck, I wish all of us luck. In a clothes dryer with a year's worth of Soylent, that trip to Mars won't be a picnic.
posted by Oyéah at 9:57 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to Space Elevators?

They're still working on getting the rights to enough music to last the journey.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:01 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

To be fair, the Nomad Program has shown an unfortunate propensity toward killing people.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:35 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


I don't like the use of touch screens for everything. Yeah it's pretty slick but the room for failure there seems really high. I don't know what system they're running or how robust it is, it seems too good looking to be durable, if that makes any sense.
I don't either, but those touch screens look like they came right out of the Tesla Model S. If so, then they already have far more person-years of field testing than any switch that NASA has ever flown.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:48 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


And he points out there are mechanical buttons for all the really critical stuff.
posted by aubilenon at 1:12 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Bugs Bunny: "Hey Doc, what does this button do?"
posted by Optamystic at 3:08 AM on May 30


And he points out there are mechanical buttons for all the really critical stuff.

Cool, but what about a toilet, food and water somewhere in that empty space? Seriously, it takes about six hours to get to the ISS from launch, but that's by doing a series of critically timed maneuvers. If something doesn't go right, as happened on a recent unmanned Progress supply ship, then the journey takes two days. Can you imagine seven people in that space for two days?

Even the six hour trip results in a long day for the astronauts, something like close to 12 hours. That's helluva long time to be cooped up. Especially if they're wearing spacesuits, as briefly seen in the video

I'm really worried about the lack of public acknowledgement or plan for human comfort. Hopefully it's just something Space X doesn't think is important to discuss, 'cause they have a plan.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 AM on May 30


Article from Air & Space Magazine concerning SpaceX, reliability and reducing cost:
Significantly, the Merlin engines—like roughly 80 percent of the components for Falcon and Dragon, including even the flight computers—are made in-house. That’s something SpaceX didn’t originally set out to do, but was driven to by suppliers’ high prices. Mueller recalls asking a vendor for an estimate on a particular engine valve. “They came back [requesting] like a year and a half in development and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just way out of whack. And we’re like, ‘No, we need it by this summer, for much, much less money.’ They go, ‘Good luck with that,’ and kind of smirked and left.” Mueller’s people made the valve themselves, and by summer they had qualified it for use with cryogenic propellants.

“That vendor, they iced us for a couple of months,” Mueller says, “and then they called us back: ‘Hey, we’re willing to do that valve. You guys want to talk about it?’ And we’re like, ‘No, we’re done.’ He goes, ‘What do you mean you’re done?’ ‘We qualified it. We’re done.’ And there was just silence at the end of the line. They were in shock.” That scenario has been repeated to the point where, Mueller says, “we passionately avoid space vendors.”
SpaceX has done an end-run around the traditional military vendors. I get a little pleasure from that thought.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:21 AM on May 30 [17 favorites]


Cool, but what about a toilet, food and water somewhere in that empty space?

Food they need, and water if it's not already a waste product from fuel cells, but Apollo astronauts did just fine without toilets.

The underwear for space suits includes a diaper.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:44 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


The crew of Apollo 8 spent some time cleaning up throw up and feces in a weightless environment. The rest of Apollo crews hated the lack of no toilet, as pooping in a bag is unseemly and difficult. That's why current manned spacecraft and stations have a toilet.

Since Musk is concerned about making a spaceship that looks like it's part of the 21st century, you'd think serious thought would be considered to not including diapers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on May 30


I was under the impression this capsule was intended primarily to get someone to orbit, not for an extended stay?
posted by aramaic at 7:45 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I always feel like I should hate Musk. Like, between the sort of hypercapitalist, individualistic attitude that he seems to engender (with a lot of parallels in the software industry, which, of course, considering where he got his initial spot of money from, makes sense)...

But the fact he's working towards actually making a fucking difference in the world of tech. Working towards making clean energy and putting pressure from below on the big turds we call US Car Companies who now have to compete with this up and coming dude who is showing there's a market.

When the US is failing the space plan, here he is stepping up to help alleviate some of that.

I still think we need a strong, competent national space program, abso-fuckin-lutely, but if we are gonna have asshole teabaggers fuck shit up, it's nice there's some alternative to pick up the slack.

And his idea for that rapid transit system of his, I think he's got big bold ideas, and he's putting his money where his mouth is, and he's not just dictating with that money, he's being part and parcel of that creative aspect. He looked pretty run down in that presentation last night, more so than I've seen him in a lot of things... I can imagine he must be dealing with a lot of pressures with all these different projects.

I like that he seems to give the teams credit (even though he didn't really have them on stage last night - he did (at least some of them) for the Tesla X unveiling).

So - I kinda want to hate him, but I kinda don't. Anybody have a weird love/quasi-dislike of the guy?
posted by symbioid at 10:20 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Ah, read somewhere the Dragon V2 interior isn't finished, hence the seemingly open space with nothing but seats. So it'll gradually fill it with 'stuff,' whatever that may be.

Of course, there's the issue of using the toilet in front of six people, so...yeah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:35 PM on May 30


Whatever happened to Space Elevators?

People haven't stopped laughing yet. It'll happen ten years after that, according to Clarke.
posted by bondcliff at 12:43 PM on May 30


Brandon Blatcher: "Of course, there's the issue of using the toilet in front of six people, so...yeah."

It's not that bad, they just freeze dry your poop as it comes out.
posted by symbioid at 1:26 PM on May 30


Other Elon Musk related news. Besides cars, spaceships and green energy he is also building a massive battery factory:

"Elon Musk says he’s increasingly confident that a massive factory will lower battery costs enough for a mass-market electric vehicle."

Though how will this compete with the new (revolutionary?) Ryden battery made from cotton that charges 20 times faster than Lithium and is cheaper, uses no rare metals, runs cooler, lasts longer.
posted by stbalbach at 2:28 PM on May 30


> This thing is only incidentally able to land on Earth. This thing is designed to enter the atmosphere of and land on Mars, where you need to use parachutes and rockets to land.

Seriously, if you look at what Musk is attempting to do, everything is pretty much about Mars colonization.

1) Tesla provides the research and experience around electric vehicles, efficient battery production processes, and assembly systems.

2) SolarCity is their research into cheap and efficient solar panel fabrication, assembly, and construction.

3) Space X's research into reuseable rocket technologys (The Grasshopper, the Dragon 2, etc)

Combined, you have a collection of skills and technologies that would be useful on colonizing another planet.

Something like the grasshopper makes getting material into earth orbit much easier. Once in orbit, it becomes the staging area to attach to the Aldrin-Cycler, get over to Mars, land, and if they could add disposable boosters to the Grasshopper, send one of those over to Mars as well. Find a reliable way to stock up an area with the raw materials before human colonists arrive, and you could start building a sustainable colony there. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to build things there once on Mars.

I realize this is a gross generalization, but probably a more practical way to get mars colonized than something like a space elevator.

I still wonder what could happen now that we have successfully landed a 1 ton SUV on Mars. What could we do with 10 of them, programmed with more specific tasks and able to coordinate with each other.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:12 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


But what does this mean for Machete Kills Again ... In Space?
posted by ckape at 3:19 PM on May 30


Seriously, if you look at what Musk is attempting to do, everything is pretty much about Mars colonization.
The big missing piece is a commune that houses a few dozen people and is maintains strict physical isolation from the rest of the world for at least six months at a time.

As a tech-nerd that is several (hundred?) orders of magnitude less successful than Elon Musk, one of the best things about my professional life is that I've always been able to just say "fuck you, I quit", and then go home. It goes without saying that you can't do that on Mars.

Anyone who wants to go live on Mars should be locked in semi-solitary confinement with a dozen other colonists for twelve months while smelling each other's farts. The only allowed reading material would be Sartre's No Exit.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:27 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


It feels like we'e recaptured some of that mid-20th century optimism about the future again.
posted by humanfont at 4:55 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Anyone who wants to go live on Mars should be locked in semi-solitary confinement with a dozen other colonists for twelve months while smelling each other's farts. The only allowed reading material would be Sartre's No Exit.

Won't really help. Living in tin box or tube, with few windows and not much to do and you can't go outside unless you put on a suit will be radically different than anything on Earth.

You can try and plan for it and pick your colonists, but you can't really train for it, because there's nothing on Earth like looking up and seeing a pinpoint of light and realizing that everything you've ever known is back there. A cool breeze, the sound of purring cat, the ambience of city or country life etc. And you can't do any of that. In fact, you may never ever get to do it again. That's going to drive some people absolutely nuts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:03 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to Space Elevators?

IIRC, they actually now have the materials strong enough to build one (carbon nanotube polymer) but are still working on a method for unrolling a 10,000+ mile ribbon of it in 0G :/
posted by sexyrobot at 10:10 AM on May 31


> but are still working on a method for unrolling a 10,000+ mile ribbon of it in 0G :/

I think they are also still working on making 10,000 miles of said carbon nanotube also.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:34 PM on May 31


Isn't graphene the better now: Graphene Outperforms Carbon Nanotubes for Creating Stronger, More Crack-Resistant Materials.

And they can mass produce it with a kitchen blender: How to Make Graphene in Your Kitchen Blender.
posted by stbalbach at 10:26 PM on May 31


I'd guess the key thing is how it would perform in tension. Stronger is a pretty loose word when it comes to material science.
posted by Mitheral at 1:07 AM on June 1


Chris Hadfield on SpaceX Dragon V2
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:01 AM on June 1


In other news: Virgin Galactic Signs FAA Deal to Clear Airspace for Suborbital Flights
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on June 1


Mars or bust, says new report on NASA human space exploration
posted by homunculus at 12:49 PM on June 7


Here's NASA's New Design for a Warp Drive Ship
posted by homunculus at 5:20 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ and send people in Mars in ten years
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:15 AM on June 18


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