"...the cargo variant, which can handle a payload of 3.6 metric tonnes, and a stretched tanker version that can manage 6.5 metric tonnes."
I wonder if I can get free delivery with Amazon Prime membership?
At an event in Washington DC, Blue Origin boss Jeff Bezos yesterday showed world+dog the company's Moon lander – Blue Moon – and promised manned missions to the lunar surface by 2024. The actual unveiling starts from 33:57 on this vid below if you fancy skipping Bezos' self-congratulatory spiel and get straight to the action, …
Excellent point, documentaries such as these could go a long way to explaining why Trump ordered the setup of a Space Force, are we in fact on the verge of an intergalactic war we don't know about?
Hmm, I've just noticed my silver badge has disappeared. Must be those aliens.
To be fair there was no spoil sport mentality in that post. As much as I loved those series and other Gerry Anderson productions... moving the moon in any fashion is near impossible. So much so it has to be watched as a pure fantasy.
I find it hard to take serious any series/book/game that "explodes" or destroys the moon. Orbital mechanics and gravity don't work like that. Thats why it's amazing when sci-fi follows the limits and still weaves a story from it.
At least with Interstellar or Gravity sizes and timescales were changed partially for speed of storytelling. Something much easier to help someone understand than trying to correct completely fabricated "space" science.
You might like Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, which has a moon destruction motif that is farm more reasonable. Of course, while his moon makes sense, the inhabitants of his earth don't ("Hey, the world will end in 1 year" "Wow! Really?" "Yup". "Cor. That sucks. Oh, well, must go, can't be late for work...")
Still, in an effort to be directly relevant to the article... Stephenson worked at Blue Origin.
I found his minimum survival populations unrealistic (without additional time and technology not mentioned in the book) as well as lack of non-american on-planet survivor groups. I also kept mis-reading the title as seveneyes but that one's all on me. That said, if they make a film, Gwendoline Christie would make a great Tekla.
To be fair, Seveneves is mostly set in space, where folk are more likely to survive. On Earth it mostly focuses on the people who remain responsible, go to work and get stuff done. It just doesn't talk about the ones who give up. And it's two years between getting notice of everyone dieing and it actually happening. I suspect a lot people would go back to work for most of that time. They'd still need to eat, so they'd need to get paid somehow. Not everyone has two-years worth of savings to live on. It's in the last 3 months before the event that society starts to break down, which gets mentioned briefly.
Does the New Shepard have the old Shepard's corpse attached to the fairing, Reaver style?
I'm still curious as to how hard it'd be to set up an automated Lunar brick making facility. To have cost-effective heavy engineering in space, it would seem neccessary to start making heavy components there pronto to save hauling them out of our gravity well.
But why make bricks? Since there's no air on the moon we could just use the straw and the Big Bad Wolf could huff and puff all he wanted but he wouldn't be able to blow the house down. Although I suppose the Cow might notice it when she's jumping over the moon and land to eat it.
Blue origin hasn't so far managed to get to orbit. They rely on claiming "spaceflight" to mean going upto 100km and falling back down . Hoping that rich passengers don't know the difference and idiot investors don't see how much harder it is
Ummm.... that's just dumb. New Shepherd, just like Virgin Galactic, is a suborbital system, and no-one pretends otherwise.
So let's look at some facts, shall we?
SpaceX had Block 3 and 4 Falcon 9's that can be reused once (so flown twice). Block 5 is supposed to be reusable up to 10 times before major refurbishment, but to date just two have been flown 3 times (the first "3rd flight" was in December last year).
New Shepard's flight history looks a bit different. NS2 was a test article, used to develop the system It flew to the 100km altitude 5 times in 11 months, after which they retired it.
NS3 is flying now. It's fourth flight carried payload from people that YAAC would presumably lump with "idiot investors", even if they're the idiots that the original Shepard worked for when he flew Freedom 7 in 1961 and commanded Apollo 14 in 1971...
This month NS3 flew it's fifth flight.
NS4 is in Texas now, and is schedule to fly humans this year.
So what we have here is two tracks towards the same goal (and yes, the ultimate goal of both Musk and Bezos are the same: humans on Mars). Blue Horizon is doing lots of boring testing but making no money, while SpaceX is parallel tracking the testing with commercial operations. SpaceX is undoubtedly more glamorous, but against which Musk is (to be polite) a potential loose cannon. Blue Horizon is working with ULA and NASA, SpaceX is competing with ULA and selling services to anyone (including NASA).
But right now, would you rather fly on a Crew Dragon or a New Shepard? Statistically, both have 100% rates on mission completion after delivery to the launch pad, except that NS is 100% success and CD is 100% failure...
I think it quite likely that Blue Horizon will get someone to 100km this year. I think it quite unlikely that Crew Dragon will get someone anywhere (this year).
If the rivalry motivates either or both of them, bring it on. I think they are both flawed, possibly unpleasant, businessmen doing a great thing for mankind as a boost for their egos. The railways benefited from the same robber baron mentality in the 19th Century as did cars and aircraft in the early 20th.
Let's look at some facts.
New Shephard is irrelevant to Blue Moon. Nobody cares.
New Glenn started development in 2012, hasn't flown, and won't fly until 2021 at the earliest. That's a 9-year development project (which to be fair, is better than SLS is managing).
The 2021 launch date means that if BO intend to go to the moon by 2024, they have to fly New Glenn on (or near) schedule, work out all the kinks, get it man-rated, develop an ascent/transit vehicle, get that man-rated, and then put meatbags in their transit vehicle and lunar lander and fire them moonwards.
In 3 years.
Yeah, okay. I can see that happening... not.
By contrast, SpaceX has a man-rated vehicle right now, and just needs to fine-tune the capsule, which evidently isn't that critical a design issue since Cargo Dragon is still cleared to fly to the ISS. The failure was serious, but obviously not an inherent or underlying design flaw which will require them to rework Crew Dragon ground-up.
Don't get me wrong, New Glenn is a fine-looking rocket (on paper) and I want to see it fly. The comment of "blue balls" and "Stop teasing Jeff" is entirely reasonable. Musk wants some more competition to make NASA finally kill SLS and to beat Boeing/ULA with.
Christ, imagine what SpaceX (or BO for that matter) could do with even half the taxpayer cash that has been pissed up the wall by SLS.
Besides, BO give as good back. When F9 first landed successfully, BO tweeted "Welcome to the Club" on the basis they were first to soft-land a rocket with New Shephard. Conveniently ignoring the fact that F9 is an order of magnitude larger, more powerful and had actually been to space and back delivering a useful payload - not just a simple up-and-down tech demo. It's intriguing that people should pick on Musk for having a dig at Bezos when BO have dug at SpaceX just as often.
Actually, Crew Dragon is 100% success. It successfully completed an uncrewed mission to ISS and returned with cargo safely. I'm guessing the failure you are thinking of is the one that happened later, during a test mounted on a test-rig, not during a mission. Finding such failures is why they test. They were being cautious, so it makes no sense for you to criticise them for it.
It's unfair to call SpaceX loose cannons. We have no idea whether Blue Origin will be safer if/when they finally make orbit, because they've not done that yet, and what they have done is enormously easier. Their approach is not proven.
I think the Space X achievements give him the kudos to take the piss out of potential competitors, it's just a shame his wit appears to have deserted him.
Bezos' ambitions are admirable but as yet the talk and vision are just not backed up by true innovation, a demonstrable track record or an aggressive launch and development program which might just achieve his stated aims.
Musk did make a tweet welcoming the competition, which The Register didn't report presumably because it spoils the story. It's hard to congratulate for progress because there wasn't any real progress in this announcement. It was just stuff they plan to do. The lander is a mock-up, the new engine has never been test-fired, the rocket they intend to launch with hasn't been built and uses another new engine that isn't flight-ready.
Spot the person who didn't bother to watch the video!
The ball is the liquid hydrogen tank (there are O2 tanks in that same area).
The cargo area is the flat top. You don't have to put things "inside" when landing on the moon, because there's no atmosphere to worry about.
And "flimsy"??? Have you ever seen a Lunar Excursion Module? You know, the Apollo landers made by Grumman? They used actual _foil_ as walls!
OK: so the world's richest man says he'll put a human in space this year (albeit suborbital, like Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule... hence the name). He says he'll fly New Glenn in 2021. He says he'll land Blue Moon in 2024.
I'm not sure I'd bet against him.
Bezos says "he'll put a human in space this year (albeit suborbital, like Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule... hence the name). ...fly New Glenn in 2021. ...land Blue Moon in 2024."
He also promises "Two Day" shipping, and then takes an extra several days to think about even STARTING the "two day" shipping process, thus making it into four or five days.
In the video, Bezos shows a clip from Asimov in 1975 asking whether any SF authors had considered artificial worlds (like O'Neil colonies). Asimov claims no one had.
Except that, in 1973, Arthur C Clarke published "Rendezvous with Rama", which describes spaceships that are artificial habitats.
So did Clarke predict O'Neil?
That down-and-up stuff is expensive, dangerous and pointless. Leave the low-gravity, abrasive dust-clogged bit to the industrial robots.
I'd rather build a spinning space station with a healthy level of artificial gravity. No harm then in moseying over to lunar orbit for a look see.
Mine is the one with the VR kit in the pocket and a humanoid robot on the moon.
That would undercut them. May not be as popular, but certainly cheaper than sending entire living quarters. Now where's the Kickstarter registration when you want to make a quick buck?
Why can't they get along? There is the opportunity for a photo-op there, maybe a Falcon Heavy Lifter, flanked by a Blue Origin on each side?
Because they're in competition?
And because BO give just as good back.
Their jibe of "Welcome to the club" when F9 first soft-landed was met with similar derision because soft-landing a sub-orbital toy which went straight up and down is quite different to soft-landing a 13-storey building which has just been to space and back, delivering a useful payload to orbit in the process.
At the end of the day, Musk wants BO to get on with it - he wants to put Congress and NASA in a position where they have no option but to kill SLS and spend that money on something useful. Musk has been launching payloads for years and New Glenn is still NET 2021 (by which time SpaceX's fourth vehicle StarShip will be well on it's way, but BO are still playing around with New Shephard - less capable than Falcon 1 along hopefully with a FH competitor in New Glenn).
The RL-10 is an expander cycle engine. That is, it warms up some of the fuel by passing it through the nozzle (thus keeping the nozzle from melting), and uses the now expanded, gaseous(?), fuel to power the turbo-pump, which pumps the fuel and oxidiser into the engine.
The BE-7 is a dual expander cycle engine. So it heats up the fuel to run the fuel pump, but also separately warms up the oxidiser (liquid oxygen) to run a separate pump for the main oxidiser supply, this ends up making the plumbing simpler, and more robust (because the fuel and oxidiser circuits can be kept separate).
This difference might help make the BE-7 more efficient (although I'm assuming that a clean slate design using modern materials and construction techniques will also help), but it will also make the BE-7 more reusable (not something the RL-10's designers cared about).
tl/dr because it's a new, modern, design, the BE-7 is likely to be simpler and more efficient than the venerable RL-10.
If you prefer more visual information, Scott Manley does a much better job of explaining it in this video.
It's worth noting that although they showed a crewed ascent vehicle, they aren't bidding for that portion of the NASA contract themselves. They can deliver one to the Moon, but someone else will have to build it.
So what they are actually offering is somewhat less than SpaceX have planned for Starship, except Starship will be 100% reusable from day 1, and can land 100 tonnes rather than 6.5 on the Moon. Both in the same timescale - arguably Starship is more advanced because it has a working engine and has done tethered flight-tests of a crude prototype of its second stage. Blue Origin don't have a flight-ready engine for their main rocket, and the engine for their lander has never been test-fired. The way things are looking, both New Glenn and Starship will likely make first orbit in 2021. New Glenn won't be reusing their second stage, and their lander is only reusable with ISRU which won't be available on the Moon for quite a while.
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