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10 hours ago, Shpaget said:

Is SpaceX pushing the sales of SS, or is this sat so big that FH is not enough and there is actual need for the SS capacity?

Or is SX already offering SS at cost below F9/FH?

Airbus is building Superbird-9 based on their new OneSat bus, which they are using for a number of other satellites with launch contracts, and so it seems highly unlikely that this will be dramatically larger than existing comsats. I believe the Inmarsat-7 comsats use the OneSat bus and they are less than 3 tonnes. Optus 11 is also using the OneSat bus and it is supposed to be around 3 tonnes even though it is being launched on Ariane-64.

So unless Superbird-9 is more than twice as heavy as anything else ever built with this satellite bus, then even Falcon 9 would be able to send it to GTO with first-stage recovery.

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3 hours ago, tater said:

 

Come to think of it, what would be considered the exact point of completion of SpaceX's mission obligations? Is the recovery process after splashdown part of NASA's mission, so SpaceX is off the hook once the capsule lies steady in the water (KSP style)? Or does SpaceX have to fish it out of the drink and put it on a ship before they can call it a job well done? And who would be responsible for taking the capsule back to shore?

For unmanned missions, I guess it's not a very important distinction, but somebody would probably be fined for littering if the capsule wasn't recovered. Whose responsibility would that be?

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35 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I think the end point of SpaceX obligations would be after everything has been unloaded from the capsule, and if that unloading happens in a NASA facility, when the capsule is back in SpaceX's possession.

yeah, they are selling a service.

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23 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

So, I have a slightly different take, though it's little less cynical (perhaps more so.)

I think that take is a little more cynical than mine. I don't necessarily think you're wrong, just... oof. I hope Mars is a little more concrete of a thing than crypto.

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2 hours ago, RyanRising said:

I think that take is a little more cynical than mine. I don't necessarily think you're wrong, just... oof. I hope Mars is a little more concrete of a thing than crypto.

I mean long term as broad swaths of the planet become nearly unlivable probably mars does become fundamentally attractive, but its kind of like Hyperloop, a good enough idea on paper if you don’t look too closely at the fine print to extract billions in investment capital and public tax dollars without any real plan to actually execute. We’re essentially banking on our own selfish, stupid, self-destruction. Who cares if a few billion people living check to check die of starvation and heatstroke if we can pool their meager life worth into billionaires’ vanity projects. 

Edited by Pthigrivi
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22 minutes ago, Pthigrivi said:

I mean long term as broad swaths of the planet become nearly unlivable probably mars does become fundamentally attractive, but its kind of like Hyperloop, a good enough idea on paper if you don’t look too closely at the fine print to extract billions in investment capital and public tax dollars without any real plan to actually execute. We’re essentially banking on our own selfish, stupid, self-destruction. Who cares if a few billion people living check to check die of starvation and heatstroke if we can pool their meager life worth into billionaires’ vanity projects. 

Mars as a backup (I'm not aggressively pro Mars colonization, but if someone does it, awesome!) is on the long term a good thing for life/consciousness. It puts eggs in 2 baskets, and the tech to even attempt it mitigates some existential risk—you need to be really, truly "spacefaring" to have even a hope to divert planet-killer type threats. (in terms of the existential threat argument this is the bit that moves the dial, IMO, not the colony)

Money is not in fact finite, so the billions don't matter, and if not spent on space exploration, the same billions would in fact be spent on billion dollar yachts, etc.

Any current perceived terrestrial risks are tempered by the fact that world population is very much on track to crater. As all the metrics for human wellbeing have improved since the Industrial Revolution, the per capita number of children born has decreased. Improved standards of living result in fewer births. China is on track to have their pop drop in half by ~2050. This is true in much of the world now (certainly most of the "first world").  So even minus tech improvements that will mitigate harms, the total human impact will be lower, as there will be fewer humans.

As a reality check, SpaceX must be spending grossly less than NASA spends per year. So the idea that billionaire "vanity projects" are meaningful amounts of money is silly. People spend almost a half a TRILLION dollars a year at Amazon. Spending a couple billion a year on Starship is noise.

Edited by tater
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31 minutes ago, Pthigrivi said:

I mean long term as broad swaths of the planet become nearly unlivable probably mars does become fundamentally attractive, but its kind of like Hyperloop, a good enough idea on paper if you don’t look too closely at the fine print to extract billions in investment capital and public tax dollars without any real plan to actually execute. We’re essentially banking on our own selfish, stupid, self-destruction. Who cares if a few billion people living check to check die of starvation and heatstroke if we can pool their meager life worth into billionaires’ vanity projects. 

The simple statement, Mars Sucks. It just does, no way to make it habitable and it will probably end up killing any colonists. How about we spend those billions on ways. to make Earth and Human society more sustainable.

Funding to clean energy

ways to reduce waste

Educating and promoting contraception so we can go back to a sustainable population

Hell, maybe even looking into ways we can export heavy industry off planet

But selling the idea of "making life multiplane blah blah blah" is just a quick snake oil pitch.

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22 minutes ago, SpaceFace545 said:

The simple statement, Mars Sucks. It just does, no way to make it habitable and it will probably end up killing any colonists. How about we spend those billions on ways. to make Earth and Human society more sustainable.

Funding to clean energy

The actual money maker for Musk (this is the SpaceX thread after all) is Tesla, not SpaceX. they make solar panels and electric cars. That's clean energy. A % of the profits fund SpaceX.

 

22 minutes ago, SpaceFace545 said:

ways to reduce waste

Educating and promoting contraception so we can go back to a sustainable population

The Earth faces population collapse, not growth.  Africa remains positive (>2.1 fertility rate), and parts of Asia. China is well below, India is break even. All are trending down, year after year.

Odd factoid I learned in a book the other day. How much population would the US need to have to equal German pop density in the year 1900? Almost a billion people.

 

22 minutes ago, SpaceFace545 said:

Hell, maybe even looking into ways we can export heavy industry off planet

This is a good idea, IMO.

 

22 minutes ago, SpaceFace545 said:

But selling the idea of "making life multiplane blah blah blah" is just a quick snake oil pitch.

How is industry off the Earth ("millions living and working in space" per BO, which has moving heavy industry off Earth as their goal) not "making life multiplanetary?" is it because they are in O'Neill colonies, not actual planets?

Where is the "snake oil" BTW? I'm not keen on moving to Mars, but if some want to, why should I care? If you are in fact concerned about global population increase, shouldn't people leaving be good?

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2 hours ago, SpaceFace545 said:

How about we spend those billions on ways. to make Earth and Human society more sustainable

Of all the arguments you could have used, "fix earth first" is by far [snip] the one that is least likely to convince anyone in a space forum

Edited by James Kerman
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3 hours ago, SpaceFace545 said:

The simple statement, Mars Sucks. It just does, no way to make it habitable and it will probably end up killing any colonists. How about we spend those billions on ways. to make Earth and Human society more sustainable.

Funding to clean energy

ways to reduce waste

Educating and promoting contraception so we can go back to a sustainable population

Hell, maybe even looking into ways we can export heavy industry off planet

But selling the idea of "making life multiplane blah blah blah" is just a quick snake oil pitch.

Yup. There are more incredible things per square metre on Earth than anywhere else in the universe that we can feasibly get to now or are likely to be able to get to in future. And once they're gone - they're gone.  I might disagree on the details but I fully agree with the sentiment.

Scientific exploration of Mars - sure.  Making life multiplanetary... I guess?

Making life multiplanetary as a 'not keeping our eggs in one basket' policy - I don't see it.  A proto-Mars colony seems likely to still be heavily dependent on Earth for well within the timescale of human-caused disasters.

As for cosmic disasters - well if our resident billionaires want to have a 'spending money in space' competition, I humbly suggest that asteroid defense would be a better insurance policy than a Mars colony.  Other cosmic disasters (like gamma-ray bursts) - if Earth gets clobbered with one of those, the chances are excellent that Mars will get clobbered too.

Also, having seen Musk's shenanigans outside of SpaceX, and Bezo's pure pettiness, not to mention the general geopolitical nonsense and profiteering  around the Covid pandemic I'm pretty soured on the whole 'space as manifest destiny' thing anyway,  Space - not so much the Final Frontier as merely a new frontier to make all the same old mistakes and indulge all the same old behaviours in. 

Unless we find some xenomorphs out there and learn from them.  After all, as one famous ambassador from Earth noted - you don't see xenomorphs screwing each other over for a percentage.

 

 

Edited by KSK
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2 hours ago, tater said:

Where is the "snake oil" BTW? I'm not keen on moving to Mars, but if some want to, why should I care? If you are in fact concerned about global population increase, shouldn't people leaving be good?

Nope. Because the number of people moving is trivial (in terms of global population) and the effort and resources required to get them there - and keep them there - far outweigh any marginal release of population pressure.

Edited by KSK
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3 hours ago, SpaceFace545 said:

The simple statement, Mars Sucks. It just does, no way to make it habitable and it will probably end up killing any colonists. How about we spend those billions on ways. to make Earth and Human society more sustainable.

Funding to clean energy

ways to reduce waste

Educating and promoting contraception so we can go back to a sustainable population

Hell, maybe even looking into ways we can export heavy industry off planet

But selling the idea of "making life multiplane blah blah blah" is just a quick snake oil pitch.

That multiplanetary species is pure repurposed bovine waste. It may become true after thousand years of colonization attempts but it is not relevant reason in our lifetime. But your suggestions are boring. Humans are not reasonable but complex psychological beings. It is bad problem in any society that new ideas and monuments have more prestige, popularity more money than maintain of existing infrastructure.

Space colonization would be very good ideological objective for technical civilization. It gives something to most of people. There will be brave heros, ingenious managers, funders and builders, monumental building projects, scientific and technical breakthroughs, sad accidents, glorious success, fascinating stories, ideological motivations and so on. Reasonable development of clean tech, peaceful and fair societies and moderate lifestyle has order of magnitude less potential of that kind of psychologically fancy stuff.

And fortunately it can give most of those reasonable things too indirectly. New space tech make possible to move increasing part of mining and polluting production to asteroids and build protection systems against hitting bodies, new medical knowledge gives better life on Earth, failures increase resilience and after long time our life is not anymore in one basket. But we could never fund those things without high prestige ideology of colonization. Without it people choose to use their money for everyday pleasures or profitable investments to companies selling such pleasure instead of investments to real development.

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6 minutes ago, Hannu2 said:

That multiplanetary species is pure repurposed bovine waste. It may become true after thousand years of colonization attempts but it is not relevant reason in our lifetime. But your suggestions are boring. Humans are not reasonable but complex psychological beings. It is bad problem in any society that new ideas and monuments have more prestige, popularity more money than maintain of existing infrastructure.

Space colonization would be very good ideological objective for technical civilization. It gives something to most of people. There will be brave heros, ingenious managers, funders and builders, monumental building projects, scientific and technical breakthroughs, sad accidents, glorious success, fascinating stories, ideological motivations and so on. Reasonable development of clean tech, peaceful and fair societies and moderate lifestyle has order of magnitude less potential of that kind of psychologically fancy stuff.

And fortunately it can give most of those reasonable things too indirectly. New space tech make possible to move increasing part of mining and polluting production to asteroids and build protection systems against hitting bodies, new medical knowledge gives better life on Earth, failures increase resilience and after long time our life is not anymore in one basket. But we could never fund those things without high prestige ideology of colonization. Without it people choose to use their money for everyday pleasures or profitable investments to companies selling such pleasure instead of investments to real development.

I respectfully disagree with this.

The Apollo program had all of those psychological factors, plus a clear and present ideological motivation to underpin it. And yet, after Apollo 11, public interest in the program tapered off markedly, with a brief resurgence of interest for Apollo 13.  More recently, New Shepard has been widely dismissed (at least in my country) as a billionaire vanity project, with many oh-so-hilarious comments being made about the shape of the New Shepard rocket and capsule.

Based on the above, I think most of 'technical civilization' is going to regard space colonization as a government boondoggle or a billionaire vanity project, depending on who's driving it.

 

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3 hours ago, KSK said:

The Apollo program had all of those psychological factors, plus a clear and present ideological motivation to underpin it. And yet, after Apollo 11, public interest in the program tapered off markedly, with a brief resurgence of interest for Apollo 13. 

It is on easy to keep public interest. But Apollo was "easy". It here had been few failures before first success and then clear development (and failure now and then, maybe thrilling rescue operation) it would have been more interesting. I think Mars will give much more challenge. But of course pace of program will be very slow which decrease public interest.

On the other hand, I can not see much other options. Billionaires do not have enough resources to develop systems capable of manned operations on another planets. They have so high personal ambitions and tendency to compete against  each other that meaningful cooperation is impossible.

Musk talk much about Mars but has not actually made anything Mars specific yet. It is very speculative if Starship will be ever used in any kind of Mars-operations, or even in manned flights, but it will certainly be very profitable rocket for next generation satellite constellations if development succeed nearly as intended.

 

3 hours ago, KSK said:

More recently, New Shepard has been widely dismissed (at least in my country) as a billionaire vanity project, with many oh-so-hilarious comments being made about the shape of the New Shepard rocket and capsule.

New Shepard is just overhyped test article without any meaningful use except testing. I do not see why they keep it running. Few flights per year means few millions of profit. It is less than nothing in Blue Origin sized company.  And less than less than nothing for Jeff Bezos.

3 hours ago, KSK said:

Based on the above, I think most of 'technical civilization' is going to regard space colonization as a government boondoggle or a billionaire vanity project, depending on who's driving it.

I have tendency to think that Mars is not visited before there is some kind of cultural shift. People should have more ideological objectives and will to use resources for them instead personal pleasure and entertainment or invest to short term profits. It has been the situation on most of humankind's history.  Most of historical monuments we admire sign of high level civilization have build primarily for ideological reasons and not to produce direct profit.  Industrialization changed the game. People ceased to build cathedrals and monuments intended to last forever and began to build factories intended to short term profit. We have not fully adopted to industrialized society yet but I think it will change and we get new ideological motivations to do things.

Now there are couple of billionaires who has ideological thoughts instead of just building of new cheap consumer scrap factory in developing countries. Now there are governments who think environmental and health issues in addition to GDP and tax income during their electoral term. Now there are citizens who seek alternative ways of live. But of course it will be slow change and unfortunately I can not believe that I see manned Mars-operation in my lifetime (statistically about 35-40 years). I do not believe current projects. Neither expansion of Artemis or any other governmental operations nor private operations.

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At least as far as I can see, there's no way you're going to make any kind of profit from settling Mars in the near (or maybe even far) future. So, you have two possible justifications:

  1. Doing it to 'make life multiplanetary'
  2. Doing it because it would be awesome

The first certainly holds some water as a 'backup' for life on Earth, but any base on Mars will probably be the equivalent of an Antarctic research outpost until everyone on this forum is long gone. Anything approaching a city is a long, long way away, and a self-sustaining one even further. So, instead, I think we should be attempting to settle Mars not for any particular practical purpose, but because it would undoubtedly be the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. If we can prove that we can live on Mars, chances are that we can live anywhere in the solar system. That, to me, is exciting in a way that remaining confined to Earth could never be.

The vast majority of our resources will, as they should, be spent here on Earth solving the predicament we've got ourselves into. But as for what the other 1% or so should be spent on, I think no one puts it better than SpaceX themselves:

Quote

SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not.

It's certainly not a rational desire, and maybe it was born out of reading too much science fiction, but it really just boils down to something very simple - I think humans colonising other worlds would just be the coolest thing ever.

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6 hours ago, Beccab said:

Of all the arguments you could have used, "fix earth first" is by far [snip] the one that is least likely to convince anyone in a space forum

Not necessarily.

A lot of space science is actually aimed at "fixing Earth first". Sending people to Mars? Not so much.

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Elon Musk is loud and obnoxious about how birth rates are dropping and so forth. This is an issue to some degree, in the sense that the taxpayer pool is going to shrink relative to the number of older people who are no longer paying taxes but continue to cost the economy more money. However, at a planetary scale, the problem is overpopulation, not underpopulation. The metric against which to measure is not population density (sure, the US has low population density but it’s also mostly uninhabitable) but consumption, and at the median consumption levels of Americans, you would already need 100% of the resources of approximately ten Earths to support Earth’s current population.

Maintaining the light of consciousness is certainly a noble goal, as long as it is reasonable, which I think it is. And using Mars to do that seems ultimately feasible, albeit not necessarily on the time scale Elon aspires to. Such aspirations need not detract from solving the problems we have on Earth. But that doesn’t make the problems on Earth any less important. 

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10 hours ago, KSK said:

Nope. Because the number of people moving is trivial (in terms of global population) and the effort and resources required to get them there - and keep them there - far outweigh any marginal release of population pressure.

Population pressure is not actually a huge problem, so I'm not concerned about that anyway. Also, any mitigation on pop where it is still growing is a multi-generational issue, not something some rich guy from the US is going to solve throwing a couple billion at it.

The billions they spend on space are chump change as well, so I'm not sure what the problem is. (SpaceX maybe spends a couple B$ a year, the revenue from sneaker sales in the US is 10X that.)

 

2 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

However, at a planetary scale, the problem is overpopulation, not underpopulation.

There seems to be strong agreement that world population will peak (fairly soon), and then decline. The global fertility rate right now is slightly under 2.5, about half what it was 50 years ago (2.1 is replacement rate).

Trend-of-total-fertility-rate-by-world-r

(journal of population and sustainability)

The dark line (honestly have trouble telling if it is black or dark blue, lol) is the global average. So everywhere except Africa is already very near, or below replacement level. Economic development seems to be the driver, the more modern the economy, with higher standards of living, the fewer children. To the extent the already rich countries (all with below replacement rate birth rates) lose population, the economic engine that might help improve economic conditions in Africa will struggle. Anyway most stuff I have seen suggests global pop tops out somewhere around 10B, then declines.

Consumption is complex, usually you see what an outlier the US is in terms of energy consumption, for example, but energy consumption also correlates with metrics that result in improved wellbeing/quality of life. I suppose it could be argued that the small single-digit billions spent on space might be better spent on fusion, but presumably some billionaire is in that area right now, right?

 

6 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

A lot of space science is actually aimed at "fixing Earth first". Sending people to Mars? Not so much.

Indeed. The Bezos take is to move polluting industry off planet for example. Tesla is pushing solar (electric cars only move the dial with power to charge them, ideally not coming from the local coal-fired plant).

While I'm not a "Mars bro" (or whatever we want to call the colonize Mars advocates), I think the SpaceX focus on Mars is fine (trying to keep this on-topic). As I said above, I think that their optimization goal, which is related to the kooky Mars idea ends up getting us all the other things in space as a consequence (reduced heavy lift cost to LEO). Refilling is part of their Mars architecture, and this gives the ability to mitigate extraterrestrial risk (asteroids, etc)—which is where I see the global benefit coming from, not a Mars colony in the short term. Or in a pretty long term, tbh, any attempt to colonize Mars will take a LONG time to reach the point where the rockets can stop coming from Earth (assuming the colonists haven't already been forced to eat each other to survive ;) )

 

 

Bottom line is that all this billionaire spending is chump change. Any complaints IMHO are really "opportunity cost" complaints that these billionaires are more effective with less money than government. The tiny billions spent would be better spent doing X instead of Y. The trouble of course is that governments are already spending to "do X" and at default levels that are easily in excess of what the billionaires would ever spend, just like NASA probably spends >10X what SpaceX or BO spends per year by itself. USAID alone spends ~$8.5B/yr in sub-Saharan Africa. One US gov entity spending probably 4X SpaceX spending on part of Africa. Is the argument that the gov spending is not useful, and that the focus of Bezos or Musk would get grossly better results for less $$$? I'm open to that being true, but that seems to point at fixing the gov programs as the way to move forward (on topic, it's like SLS vs Starship).

Edited by tater
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