Wednesday, September 28, 2016

SpaceX ITS projections

 Now that Elon Musk has released engineering targets for the proposed interplanetary transport system (formerly BFR), there is some meat to work with when looking at possible applications. I'm going to extrapolate, extend and abuse those numbers as thoroughly as I can after the jump.

MCT predictions revisited

 I made a messy post with predictions for the MCT (SpaceX Mars Colonial Transporter, now known as the Interplanetary Transport Ship/System). There is a follow-on series of posts, but this one has the relevant numbers.

 In terms of architecture I did very poorly. The actual ITS is rigid-hulled, passengers travel in  microgravity, life support is ISS-style, and both Mars and Earth arrival is direct aerocapture and propulsive landing. There are a lot of windows. There are no propellant depots anywhere. Oh well... I like parts of my approach better but certainly Musk's approach is less risky up front and less expensive to develop.

 In terms of vehicle performance, I posted numbers for a 12m version and a 15m version. The vehicle will be 12m so I'll use those numbers. I'll compare to the reusable ship profile from Musk's talk.
In short, I didn't do very well. Details after the jump.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A review of nuclear electric power

 This is a subject that's been stewing for a while now. I often see debates in comment sections over whether or not nuclear electric power is feasible in space. Only rarely do those arguing hold the same assumptions about what nuclear power actually means. As a result, these debates rarely convince anyone of anything beyond the stubborn natures of their opponents.

 The goal of this post is to briefly cover the range of commercial, military and scientific nuclear power systems ranging from a few kilowatts to over a gigawatt. I will follow up the (hopefully) useful background information in a later post with some fanciful projections and my usual call for unlikely investments in space.

 Read on after the break so you can be armed with facts for your next debate thread.