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Yet carbon-fiber composites are extraordinarily tricky to fix, even on Earth. For example, Nutt said, when the Department of Defense DoD needs to repair carbon-fiber-composite jet fighters, workers sand and sheen a damaged area, slather on layers of epoxy using "fancy trowels," put the patched area under vacuum, and heat it. And that's what he calls the "crude" method.
The chances of failure are not zero. So you have to worry about those things and have contingency plans for all of them. So I usually multiply by a factor of Space tourism also appears to be a viable revenue stream. Musk said that an undisclosed sum paid by Maezawa will go toward BFR's development.
However, it's not clear if and how much of Maezawa's down payment was part of SpaceX's recent round of fundraising.
If SpaceX successfully flies a tourist around the moon, it could serve as an audacious advertisement to NASA and lawmakers who control the government's purse strings: "Buy me," it would say. Before BFR is built and a passenger is launched toward the moon, SpaceX must ace a more immediate task.
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But even if those crewed flights go smoothly, the world must be prepared for an uncomfortable and inevitable moment: death on, or en route to, Mars and the moon. It's not like taking an air flight somewhere — there's some chance that something could go wrong. When Musk presented his plan to reach Mars to the International Astronautical Congress in , an audience member asked who the first people to go on SpaceX's Mars mission should be. The risk of fatality will be high; there's just no way around it," Musk said , adding unequivocally, "It would be basically: Are you prepared to die?
And if that's OK, then you're a candidate for going.
Human mission to Mars - Wikipedia
But the early days of the commercial railroad, automobile, and aviation industries were very deadly. Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut, has compared the dangers of using current technologies to reach Mars to an even earlier period of human history, when explorers circumnavigated Earth on perilous, yearslong ocean voyages. Seasoned astronauts would be likely to attempt the trip regardless. Are you a current or former SpaceX employee with a story to share?
Send Dave Mosher an email or consider more secure options listed here. A coastal site in Boca Chica, Texas, is the current location being eyed for these launches, not the company's inland test facility in McGregor. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search".
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Elon Musk plans to blast a tourist around the moon in a ship made by his rocket company, SpaceX. The private lunar mission is meant to demonstrate a new two-part launch system called Big Falcon Rocket , which is designed to eventually bring humans to Mars. Engineers are building a prototype of the BFR's spaceship primarily out of carbon-fiber composites.
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Exactly how SpaceX is building that spaceship isn't publicly known, but industry experts have some guesses based on a handful of images. Aerospace engineers, astronauts, and Musk himself have said the first missions to Mars are likely to be perilous. This story was originally published on September 16, It has been revised and updated following a September 17 press event about SpaceX's planned moon mission , in which Elon Musk shared new information and images about the company's BFR launch system.
Such a mission would require the super-heavy-lift Long March 9 rocket, which is to enter development in the near future, targeting a first flight in The Chinese sample return mission has yet to receive formal approval, but national space officials and the NSSC's primary contractor, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation CASC , which is building the Mars spacecraft, have been discussing the mission publicly, according to Jones.
In addition, China published a white paper in that discusses "key technological research on the bringing back of samples from Mars. While the missions to Mars are approaching final preparations, aiming to launch in just over two years, the sample return missions to follow are still in early planning stages, and a number of questions about the missions have yet to be addressed. As looms, however, we could see the space agencies of the two global powers start to drill down exactly how they plan to bring home the most valuable scientific sample ever collected.
The sample caches deposited by the Mars rover will be one of the most significant aspects of that mission, but NASA has yet to figure out how to pick them up. In the meeting, Zurbuchen proposed a mission to launch as soon as to send a multi-phase mission to collect the samples. A lander would touch down on Mars and deploy a fetch rover to collect the samples and return to deposit them in the lander.
Alternatively, the Mars rover could deliver samples directly to the lander. Once secured in the lander, a small rocket called the Mars Ascent Vehicle MAV would launch to carry the samples to a rendezvous with another spacecraft in Mars orbit. That orbiting craft would then return to Earth with the rocks from Mars, or possibly fly to an orbit in cislunar space between Earth and the moon to be picked up by a future lunar mission.
To expedite the Mars sample return mission, however, NASA would likely need to postpone a new Mars telecommunications and reconnaissance orbiter, already funded by Congress and currently planned for a launch. Postponing the launch of a new Mars communications relay satellite would require NASA to figure out how to use existing orbiters to continue support for surface missions, possibly by changing the orbit of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission MAVEN and repurposing that atmospheric science spacecraft to serve as a telecommunications link. While NASA's challenges establishing a sample return mission are largely logistical—deciding which method is best and figuring out how to fund the mission among a multitude of high-priority interplanetary missions —the NSSC's challenges are mostly technical.
The global success rate for missions to Mars is only about 50 percent, and to date, just one institution has successfully landed on the red planet: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. China's first attempt to launch an orbiter to Mars, Yinghuo-1, was lost after the Russian spacecraft it was hitching a ride with failed to conduct two engine burns to fly to Mars.
The two craft were stranded in Earth orbit in late and burned up in the atmosphere a couple months later. However, China's series of successful lunar missions provides reason to believe the country could pull off its ambitious Mars mission in Chinese missions Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 successfully orbited the moon in and , respectively.
The Chinese space program's next big test will come in , when the People's Republic plans to launch Chang'e 4 to land and deploy a rover on the far side of the moon, a feat that has yet to be accomplished by humanity. Putting a lander and rover on the far side of the moon will require a telecommunications relay satellite to launch to an orbit beyond the moon about six months prior.
It was an acknowledgement that the worst had happened; the mission was now in "contingency" mode. Mission Control was sealed off, and each flight controller began carefully preserving his or her console's data. Columbia was gone, and all seven of its crew had been killed. The world of human space flight paused—first to mourn, then to discover what had happened.
My own memories of the time immediately following the accident are dominated by images of somber meetings and frantic work. I was a junior system administrator at Boeing in Houston, and because we supported the shuttle program, we had to locate and send cases and cases of backup tapes—containing everything that happened on every server in our data center during the mission—over to NASA for analysis. Behind the direct cause of the foam strike, the report leveled damning critiques at NASA's pre- and post-launch decision-making, painting a picture of an agency dominated by milestone-obsessed middle management.
That focus on narrow, group-specific work and reporting, without a complementary focus on cross-department integration and communication, contributed at least as much to the loss of the shuttle as did the foam impact. Those accusations held a faint echo of familiarity—many of them had been raised 17 years earlier by the Rogers Commission investigating Challenger's destruction. A number of prominent shuttle program managers were reassigned.
Many involved with the mission—including many still working at NASA—to this day struggle with post-traumatic stress and survivor's guilt. All pending shuttle missions were put on hold, and Columbia 's three surviving companion ships— Discovery , Atlantis , and Endeavour —were grounded. That's the way events actually unfolded. But imagine an alternate timeline for the Columbia mission in which NASA quickly realized just how devastating the foam strike had been.
Could the Columbia astronauts have been safely retrieved from orbit? During the writing of its report, the CAIB had the same question, so it asked NASA to develop a theoretical repair and rescue plan for Columbia "based on the premise that the wing damage events during launch were recognized early during the mission. They carry the low-key title " STS In-Flight Options Assessment ," but the scenario they outline would have pushed NASA to its absolute limits as it mounted the most dramatic space mission of all time.
NASA planners did have one fortuitous ace in the hole that made the plan possible: while Columbia 's STS mission was in progress, Atlantis was already undergoing preparation for flight as STS, scheduled for launch on March 1.
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Its three main engines had already been installed, but it didn't yet have a payload or remote manipulator arm in its cargo bay. Two more weeks of refurbishment and prep work remained before it would be wheeled across the space center to the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building and hoisted up for attachment to an external tank and a pair of solid rocket boosters. So an in-orbit rescue was at least feasible —but making a shuttle ready to fly is an incredibly complicated procedure involving millions of discrete steps.