Formed in 2002 by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal and the Zip2 Corporation, SpaceX has already developed two state-of-the-art new launch vehicles, established an impressive launch manifest, and been awarded COTS funding by NASA to demonstrate delivery and return of cargo to the ISS.
This book describes how simplicity, low-cost, and reliability can go hand in hand, as promoted in the philosophy of SpaceX. It explains how, by eliminating the traditional layers of internal management and external sub-contractors and keeping the vast majority of manufacturing in house, SpaceX reduces its costs while accelerating decision making and delivery, controls quality, and ensures constant liaison between the design and manufacturing teams.
Following an Introduction examining the commercial potential for space tourism, Section 1 covers Suborbital Flight. Chapter 1 opens with a description and analysis of the significance of SpaceShipOne. Chapter 2 gives the Suborbital frontrunner profiles, mission architectures and technical aspects from launch to landing while the following chapter details the training and medical requirements for space tourists. Section 2 covers the same aspects for Orbital Flight, including a civilian astronaut training manual, enabling technologies, capabilities and personnel. A description is given of the anticipated on-orbit phases that will introduce the potential spaceflight participant or reader to the capsule, rendezvous, medical support, mission events and de-orbit phase. Section 3 gives a detailed assessment of the future of space tourism based on current technologies, commercial applications, military use and Lunar and Mars missions. Countries without space programs are also included.
Erik Seedhouse provides a much needed, well-rounded understanding of what promises to be the most dynamic, multi-faceted and exciting industry in the world. He shows how seemingly innocuous players are disproving long held beliefs about what can be achieved in space despite the inherent complexities, and why this industry may soon define the new norm in space travel.
The first section provides the background to sending a human mission to Mars. Analogies are made with early polar exploration and the expeditions of Shackleton, Amundsen, and Mawson. The interplanetary plans of the European Space Agency, NASA, and Russia are examined, including the possibility of one or more nations joining forces to send humans to Mars. Current mission architectures, such as NASA’s Constellation, ESA’s Aurora, and Ross Tierney’s DIRECT, are described and evaluated.
The next section looks at how humans will get to the Red Planet, beginning with the preparation of the crew. The author examines the various analogues to understand the problems Mars-bound astronauts will face. Additional chapters describe the transportation hardware necessary to launch 4-6 astronauts on an interplanetary trajectory to Mars, including the cutting edge engineering and design of life support systems required to protect crews for more than a year from the lethal radiation encountered in deep space. NASA’s current plan is to use standard chemical propulsion technology, but eventually Mars crews will take advantage of advanced propulsion concepts, such as the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, ion drives and nuclear propulsion.
The interplanetary options for reaching Mars, as well as the major propulsive maneuvers required and the trajectories and energy requirements for manned and unmanned payloads, are reviewed . Another chapter addresses the daunting medical problems and available countermeasures for humans embarking on a mission to Mars: the insidious effects of radiation on the human body and the deleterious consequences of bone and muscle deconditioning. Crew selection will be considered, bearing in mind the strong possibility that they may not be able to return to Earth. Still another chapter describes the guidance, navigation, and control system architecture, as well as the lander design requirements and crew tasks and responsibilities required to touch down on the Red Planet.
Section 3 looks at the surface mission architectures. Seedhouse describes such problems as radiation, extreme temperatures, and construction challenges that will be encountered by colonists. He examines proposed concepts for transporting cargo and astronauts long distances across the Martian surface using magnetic levitation systems, permanent rail systems, and flying vehicles. In the penultimate chapter of the book, the author explains an adaptable and mobile exploration architecture that will enable long-term human exploration of Mars, perhaps making it the next space-based tourist location.
The time has come for commercial enterprise to lead the way back to the lunar surface. Embarking on such a venture requires little in the way of new technologies. We don’t need to develop super-fast propulsion systems like those required to get us to Mars safely, nor do we need hundreds of billions of dollars that the experts reckon it will cost to transport humans to the Red Planet. What we do need is a place to test the technologies and deep space experience that will enable us to build a pathway that will lead us to Mars. That place is the Moon and this book explains why.
Erik Seedhouse is eminently qualified to describe the effects of large accelerations on the body. In addition to being the author of several previously published Springer Praxis books, he has developed astronaut-training protocols and is the training director for Astronauts for Hire (A4H). He is also the Canadian Forces’ High Risk Acceleration Training Officer.
Commercial spaceports in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia and Alaska, as well as in countries like Curaçao and Sweden, are becoming home to dozens of private aerospace companies and provide a place where cutting-edge technology can be developed, tested and launched into space. Based on original interviews with principles at the various companies involved and on-site observations at the Mojave Air and Space Port, the author traces the early days of the spaceport movement and outlines what lies ahead.
SpaceX’s Dragon – America’s Next Generation Spacecraft describes the extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement that have placed this revolutionary spacecraft at the forefront of the launch industry and positioned it as the precursor for ultimately transporting humans to Mars. It describes the design and development of Dragon, provides mission highlights of the first six Commercial Resupply Missions, and explains how Musk hopes to eventually colonize Mars.
Until China successfully launched taikonauts into orbit, China’s space program had attracted little international attention. The book opens with an analysis of the short fifteen-year history of the China National Space Administration and its long list of accomplishments. Chapter 2 assesses Sino-U.S. technological and commercial interests in space and their implications in fuelling a potential space race. The national security objectives of the U.S. and China are examined, showing how their intentions are increasingly leading to the military integration of space technologies. Chapter 3 describes China’s anxieties about U.S. space power, its obsession with national prestige, and how manned spaceflight is viewed as a crucial element to sustain the legitimacy of the Communist Party. China is currently focusing on similar goals to those of NASA’s Constellation Program - lunar and Mars exploration. The following chapter examines the ambitious plans of both nations, and evaluates whether China’s bold goal of landing taikonauts on the Moon by 2020 is matched by the necessary capability.
In Chapter 5 Dr Seedhouse describes the space hardware being developed by the U.S. and China and the strides taken by China in its attempt to match the technological capability of the U.S. The following chapter provides an overview of China’s introductory manned spaceflights and shows how, despite a lack of experience, the Chinese may soon be in a position to challenge the U.S. in a race to the Moon. In Chapter 7, the author discusses how China’s manned space program can boost the country’s international prestige and also examines the notion of manned spaceflight as a risky way to boost national status and the potential implications of a disaster akin to Challenger and Columbia.
Chapter 8 addresses the questions of alliances and cooperation between NASA and ESA and China and Russia, or, alternatively, the U.S. and China pursuing their space ambitions alone. The implications of each way forward in the context of a looming competition in space are considered. Chapter 9 discusses the repercussions of a Chinese space program overtaking NASA and whether the U.S. has the political will to advance its own space program to prevent its position as sole space superpower being usurped. Given the mutual suspicions existing in both countries, it is perhaps inevitable that Washington and Beijing are on a collision course in space. The final chapter describes the implications of such a confrontation and discusses what, if anything, can be done to avert a new space race.