It’s been a pretty “Everything is Awsome” sort of day…
The conference is super, like one of those conferences you went to early in training where every ting seemed cool and you were only annoyed that you couldn’t attend all of the parallel sessions at the same time for fear of missing out.
Had a really interesting talk from the head of Blue Origin and some nice video from their rocket. The plan to do a Max Q in-flight abort test (deliberately jettison the capsule during the launch) to test the launch abort system. He used a nice phrase about the New Shepard rocket which will be on it’s 5th flight that it had a"non-Zero" chance of surviving. I’m going to add that to my bedside manner when explaining risk!
“well Ms Murphy, you have a non-zero chance of this complication”
The intend to live stream it and its due to happen in about a week: blueorigin.com/
Go Jeff Besos & Amazon!
After that, there was a rather Orwellian scary talk from the CEO of “Planet” planet.com/company/
I had no idea about this, but they have a constellation of satellites in a Sun-synchronous orbit (they are always overhead at midday)
They image the entire Earth once each week to a resolution of 1 pixel per 3 square meters. This data is all stored and you can look at time lines of any bit of the Earth at any time since they started for ever more. Yes you can see who’s car was parked at your house forever more (at midday, once a week) they are adding 100 more satellites to the constellation and will continually improve resolution and expand the timeline to morning and afternoon for the whole fucking planet!!! oh and the aim is to do daily updates!!!
Anyone can buy access to view the images. Any good image recognition software can slice and dice this data. He demonstrated the easy to use user interface. kind of a google earth but almost live. their aim is to within a few years move to daily updates. This scary tec is already there
Then there was Musk’s talk at 13:30 I joined the que at 11:50, they had the doors locked and guarded. it was like a rock concert but with an eclectic mix of individuals. I was huddled with a venture capitalist for space start ups and a couple form the UK working in the states for Amazon and Snap chat. It was fun, there was a buz of excitement in the air, Bill Nye and a few other Space Celebs were a few a head of me. The doors opened at 13:50 I had qued for 2 hours for a lecture! it was pandemonium and I had to sprint to get my seat at the front of the hall.
I found the talk very revealing. @PS200306 lots of new info was added and has ended a lot of speculation. There are many impressive things:
- It’s very big with an ability to land 450 tonnes on Mars. (Curiosity is currently the record holder for mass on Mars at 0.9 tonnes)
- It’s a Bionic ie it uses a lifting body to slow down like the shuttle.
- The system is entirely reusable
- Its fuel rich ie its refuelled in orbit
- It’s got a HUGE window. That comes at a big mass penalty but the views must be amazing
- It’s got 42 engines!!! FFS 42 Engines!!! on the booster alone
- The Spaceship has engines with different nozzle sizes optimised for vacuum and atmospheres on Mars and Earth
- It’s got very very big landing feet, presumably, so it can land on unprepared surfaces
- The cost per ticket is projected to be around $140,000!!
- The big surprise was the Carbon Fibre O2 tank. That is much more developed than anyone even speculated
The Q&A was a mess, I was right beside the mike and considered asking about the launch abort, landing site restrictions etc but the organisers had allowed a $20 (€1) day pass for the conference and some idiots were let in. the press questions were ok but the q’s from the floor were and embarrassment, I was so pissed off I nearly dragged one of them from the mike.
Then it was all over.
I attended one of the smaller technical sessions upstairs on “Human exploration of Mars”. It was like stepping back 50 years into the 70’s with speaker after speaker talking about and advocating a sort of Lego system of bits of spaceship stuck together so that by 2038 they could get 6 astronauts orbiting Mars, It was depressing, even the French lead of the Mars Society was advocating sending 2 Astronauts to the surface to save on fuel and aerobraking.
It was hard to listen too because each person speaking was only looking at one piece of the puzzle and trying to solve it on its own. None of them built engines or rockets nor ran a production company. None appeared to be thinking about cost at all.
Then the final straw for me came when an Italian got up to talk about using cyclers to solve the fuel problem (which Musk had just solved downstairs with a really simple solution) her first slide showed that it required an architecture of over 7 different vehicle types / technologies and all of this would be placing 6 ish people on Mars FFS. This had been advocated by Aldrin for a number of years. It was a small technical session with only about 40 in the room. Then she nodded to the front row and said what an honour it was to have Dr Aldrin here!!!
Then Dr Aldrin got up and talked about cylers. To be honest its a mess of an idea with one selling point (free return) but unlike Musks fuel rich 115-day average transfer window with an aim for a 60-day transfer window, Aldrin is advocating an 1100 day out and back trip! never going to work.
He closed the session I got to ask him a polite question with the mike and I briefly met him at the end.
What an awesome day