Tesla, SpaceX and the Mighty Stainless Steel Mars Rocket
THE JETSONS VS THE FLINTSTONES
"Making humanity a multi-planetary species," HooAh.
Originally published May 4, 2019
I understand "journalists" allegedly have a duty to present balanced viewpoints. On the other hand, everyone on earth seems obligated to diss-down on SpaceX and especially Tesla. I will gleefully wear their pejorative, "Fanboy," for men who love thundering rockets, hot cars and beautiful women, as the greatest of accolades if this miserable, un-American tide of recidivist doom and slander is the alternative!
"A petrosaur is essentially engineered to connect an ecosystem of feeders to your bank account: petro pumpers, dino-dealers, parts manufacturers, oil refineries etc, and your banker, via planned obsolescence. Unless you heat your house by burning cash, your petrosaur is the most obscene money-hole you will ever purchase it fits the structural definition of a parasite. Tesla, is.."by Author
The sudden switch by SpaceX from testing giant composite pressure vessels, to building their new Mars rocket Starship and her massive booster Super Heavy out of stainless steel may be surprising looking at it from the outside, but if anyone knew how to build rockets efficient enough to support economically viable mass-immigration to Mars and the outer planets, they'd be doing it already, and we'd all know how it was done.
SpaceX, and Tesla, have been steadily doing things nobody has ever done before. It appears to disconcert some people that they are willing to go for it testing new ideas, learning from it, and innovating based on the experience, including alarm at the brilliant move building giant rockets in the open air on the beach beside the sea.
Think about it. To bring materials into a clean-room environment, they must be sanitized prior to entry, and re-sanitized over and over again during processing to keep them clean.
Why is it such a big deal to wait until the end of the process, and then sanitize? Do you think they are unaware that even a slight dusting of metal filings in the plumbing will spontaneously ignite in contact with cryogenic liquid oxygen--the LOX component, which together with CH4 supercooled liquid methane, fuel the gigantic rocket.
Does building it outside really make it a big challenge to clean out giant empty tanks, and flush the plumbing? They have to do that meticulously anyway, even if it's built in a clean-room. I seem to recall SLS, the Senate Launch System, recently experienced a significant setback due to failing a tank-contamination check, despite all the cute booties, white smocks and filter-masks.
As if building nuclear fission-powered missile subs, which is done by the seaside in the open air, and which also happen to contain, wait for it, multiple suborbital launch vehicles, was somehow novel or risky.
I think what building rockets this way means, is that SpaceX is serious about launching humanity to the stars, vs sustaining an astronaut aristocracy atop a massive money devouring bureaucracy and jobs-program, while the rest of us watch space on teevee.
As a former USAF F-16 pilot, I gotta tell ya, the number of successful launches and booster recoveries SpaceX has under their belt requires a manic, ferocious level of care and attention to detail.
Despite the appearance of haste in their take-no-prisoners approach to initial prototyping, every single thing SpaceX is doing is not only heroically ambitious, it is massively carefully-planned including expecting unanticipated failures, doing things which have never been done before in human history.
For the first time ever, expensive rocket boosters are not discarded, raining down into the ocean in pieces after launch. SpaceX lands them and refuels them like an airplane, launching and landing them again and again. Today, May 4, 2019, SpaceX successfully landed their 39th booster back on earth, after launching a payload into space.
The sudden pivot to stainless came after building the largest composite cryogenic structure ever made and testing it to the limits. SpaceX achieved the knowledge base for the first time in history to quantify precisely how well they perform.
This makes them the only people on earth who are in a position to accurately compare traditional building methods with giant composites. As has been noted, steel water-tank contractors were tapped to weld-up the stainless steel plates for the hull of the SpaceX suborbital Starship prototype currently being prepared for test flights, named Star Hopper. The performance of huge steel tanks, which due to mass and volume are essentially giant pressure vessels, has a century of data behind it, not to mention industrial experience building giant ocean-going steel ships.
Composites are sexy and cool for building airliners like the 787, which cruise though the air at a relatively pedestrian 560 mph. Starship plunges into the atmosphere at speeds greater than 25,000 mph during reentry, and the forces Super Heavy experiences during launch, lifting nearly ten million pounds, requires these rockets to operate at stress and vibration levels that would blow a 787 into expensive, high-tech confetti.This was the purpose of the composite cryo experiment, to see if it could beat steel.
That was the benchmark composites had to beat, and I'm not surprised for a number of reasons. Not only the price, thermal and structural performance. A big reservation with composites is assessing damage, and the degree of difficulty repairing composites when they are damaged.
It's difficult to assess in shirtsleeve conditions how structurally sound a composite is after something like getting smacked by a forklift. The repairs tend towards massive overkill (weight) to be on the safe side.
Patching a composite structure on the fly out in the field means essentially building a remote mini-factory environment around it to layup, cure etc. Imagine trying to do that in the vacuum of space or on the surface of Ganymede!
Steel however, is well understood. Bash it with a hammer, drive screws into it, weld it directly to repair it, or slap-on a patch, welding a steel plate over the damaged area.
You want to talk about an expensive exercise in obsolete equipment, compared to building and then tossing millions of dollars of composite cryo tank-building equipment?
Lol, after hundreds of millions of dollars and a decade of development, SpaceX has already obsoleted the world's most powerful rocket, their own Falcon Heavy, before its first operational launch.
It required the vast experience obtained building it however, to learn how to properly obsolete it 🙂
They have already begun building and testing the first Starship prototype vehicles at their Boca Chica Texas Spaceport!
I have followed SpaceX and Tesla carefully from the beginning of each. In addition to being a former fighter pilot, I'm a systems analyst. Systems knowledge is difficult to come by. It is one of the most closely guarded secrets in human history, going all the way back to Alexander the Great and prior, whose remarkable conquests did not succeed because of any special military prowess, they succeeded on the strength of his logistics, yes?
Systems, in a nutshell, consists of thinking tools which allow ordinary people to manage extraordinary complexity. If we don't know it's possible to manage extreme complexity, we would no more attempt to try, than we would attempt swimming up Niagara Falls. Especially if we stop and listen to all the people around us forcibly telling us how foolish we are for trying.by Author
However, starting at the atomic level, up through the molecular and cellular, reality is massively complex. Which is why, invisibly to the average person, the world is run by people who know how to manage complexity. Simple.
Many of them, are quite obviously not particularly bright, you are likely aware at some level that much of what they do to us consists of making noise to distract us over here, while doing shady deeds elsewhere.
Systems theory built the British Empire, and is why the moment we defeated them they pivoted 180 becoming our allies, and passed systems thinking to our military, primarily restricting the knowledge to naval commanders. In the USAF, even pilots of aircraft with more that one crewmember do not receive systems training, only single-seat fighter pilots and even then, the training is way less than what US Navy ship captains receive. Outside of the Navy, reading Buckminster Fuller is one of the few ways to really become a student of systems theory. As a really odd kid, I began reading Bucky in sixth grade, along with sci-fi starting at Asimov and proceeding down the library shelf to Zelazny.
Learning systems theory is why the "elite's" children grow up knowing how to build empires and run the world, while our children do not. Lack of systems knowledge, which includes complexity theory, game theory, Goldratt's Theory of Constraints and Bucky's Synergetics, is why only about one-in-a-thousand of our business startups survive, while their businesses thrive, routinely raking in hundreds of millions. In this regard I highly recommend Goldratt, starting with The Goal. I commend general systems theory studies to you above all others, as it is the key to integrating all other disciplines.
Goldratt works as well for things like educating children and marriage counseling, as it does for massively complex projects and processes.
Our educations are purposefully the opposite. Even receiving advanced degrees, we are deliberately hyper-specialized, to the degree that the sub-disciplines of chemistry, medicine, biology etc cannot even speak to one another they speak such specialized languages, not to mention having their wits addled by scientism.
After a decade of "education," doctors have no clue how to heal human illness, they simply hand-out pills to relieve the symptoms. Which of course makes it feel better at first, but is guaranteed to make it worse over time. To which cascade of health failures they respond by witlessly prescribing more pills in a classic downward-spiral, feedback loop. The human body is the most advanced system ever seen or conceived, and our health-care "specialists" go at it hammer-and-tong swatting at the symptoms with primitive chemicals, oblivious to the underlying causes of illness.
Which as you notice does not even require General Systems Theory, to figure out that it isn't going to work, much less a decade of "education." Ten seconds of common sense does the job.
As a systems guy, one of the first big jobs I tackled was how to stop getting sick. That was 30 years ago, prior to which I got sick a few times a year just like everyone else. Neither Jasmine or I have been sick, once, in the last 30 years. Neither has anyone willing to sit and listen for an hour, and stop eating industrial food, etc.
That is how purposefully stupefied doctors are. Doctors as a group, have 25% shorter lifespans than the average person. That means a farmboy with a second-grade education will likely outlive any doctor by decades, lacking the horsemanure doctors spend a decade getting their heads packed with.
Our parasitical "elites" use systems to enslave us, evil systems theory is called Human / Social Engineering. Malthus, Machiavelli, Marx, Darwin, nihilism etc. It and they are the source of poverty, war, pollution, hunger, disease, and all human suffering.
Like Naval Commanders, Henry Ford and a very few others whose names we have head of, Mr. Musk is a systems thinker. The rigors of writing computer code, and working as he says from the "First Principles" of the hard sciences, is another way to derive systems thinking. I think it's an important distinction to make, that rather than viewing his ideas as whimsical (as well as his completion date forecasts 🙂 ), they are simply aspirational, with full knowledge that attempting things which have never been done before, you have no idea really, what the setbacks and pitfalls you will encounter will be, simply that you will certainly encounter them. Most coders are rendered impotent by nihilism. Disintegration.
Prior to the military I apprenticed in construction, and after became a general contractor. I can tell you with fairly high certainty how long it will take to build a particular building design, due to the vast experience in the building industry overall. When we decided to innovate, building homes with steel frames and lightweight steel studs instead of wood, the schedule went out the window. After we made all the mistakes however, we were able to cut construction time by over one third building houses so tight you could not feel or hear a storm outside blowing garden furniture across the landscape. Not a rattle, creak or whisper of a draft.
Besides the ability to turn on a dime abandoning one approach for a better one, another aspect of this is the courage to make arbitrary decisions. Where an industry with a large, entrenched bureaucracy would never risk losing face simply changing their minds, much less testing ballsy ideas, systems guys recognize when they simply not only lack the information to make informed decisions, they recognize that their assumptions are likely flawed as well.
That is what Elon meant when he said one of the most difficult challenges developing the Raptor rocket engine, was asking the right questions.
You sometimes must make arbitrary decisions, recognizing that as you proceed reality will quickly educate you as your aspirations smack reality. You know beforehand that many things are going to go wrong, and you proceed anyway. The ability to make arbitrary decisions, aka educated guesses, is essentially the courage to move forward into the unknown.
Most people absolutely hate change and uncertainty. Guys like Elon drive them nuts, which includes the odd disgruntled SpaceX or Tesla employee. They are guaranteed to perceive it as recklessness, and absolutely hate the person who messes with their sense of security.
He is aggressive at taking risks, and is willing to fail, learning in the attempt what it takes to succeed.
Yet Elon and his teams are meticulous in the end-game. Tesla cars and the astonishing SpaceX feats of brass balls engineering, routinely launching rockets followed by landing them, testify of this in their behalf.
SpaceX just landed the three booster stages, two on land, the center booster on a platform at sea, after launching Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket on earth....which they have already rendered obsolete with even more advanced designs, Starship and Super Heavy!
We drive the safest car ever made. We smile, every time we get behind the wheel. In her sedan with all her stuff in back--as much cargo space as a typical SUV, she can blow the doors off of almost any supercar if the guy isn't in the correct gear ready to rock. For such a heavy beast, it corners quite well, and despite putting out nearly 800 horsepower, handles the icy mountain roads we drive daily in winter spectacularly well. The Tesla starts sliding-out going into an icy turn too fast, you punch it and crank the wheel. Instead of deafening the neighborhood spinning cookies off into the weeds in your Lambo, the front motor pulls the front-end smoothly through the turn. You can drive a slalom on ice with the pedal to the floor, the tires will not spin.
The Model S is so well-made in every aspect of form and function, we would not consider purchasing any other car on the planet. Well, if we needed to carry more pax there is the seven-seat Model X, and we are definitely chomping at the bit to see the Tesla Roadster go into production! Wowza. Call me Fanboy.
Elon! Back to work with you building the Roadster Gigafactory!
Do you remember the disgustingly un-American moment years ago, when the ULA-ULM United Launch Monopoly lined-up behind a group of the original Apollo astronauts, publicly discrediting Elon and SpaceX essentially telling them, "You have no idea what you're doing, go away and let the big-boys handle this."
I didn't forget, and I bet Elon didn't either. Instead of offering to roll-up their sleeves getting in there and supporting them advancing the USA's aerospace industry and revitalizing it with fresh ideas, they sat there yuck-yucking with each other, mocking Elon and SpaceX for trying.
It is perfect justice, and poetry, watching Elon turn the Captains of the Aerospace Jobs Program and their vast dinosaur bureaucracies, into footnotes. Each launch of the Space Shuttle, which could not go beyond low earth orbit, cost almost as much as designing and building Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and the Dragon Space Capsule, from the ground up.
Overall, the Space Shuttle launches alone, besides the billions building them, cost enough to fund a fleet of two dozen or more reusable Starship + Super Heavy rockets, flying back-and-forth between earth and the moon, Mars, and the outer planets, with a few billion left-over for building moon and Mars bases!
To drive the nail in: 30 years, 134 Space Shuttle launches at a billion dollars each, 852 people flown to LEO, low earth orbit. Starship has the pressurized volume of an A380, the largest airliner ever flown. The A380 is certified to carry 853 passengers, including luggage. That means a single Starship has the capacity to deliver all the people flown to LEO in the entire 30 years of the STS program, to the surface of the moon in a single launch.
In actual practice, easily 200-300 people to the moon per launch, without throwing the rocket away. If this didn't pencil, SpaceX wouldn't be doing it. That means this could have been done at least half as well, yuck-yuck, in the early 1980's.
From a systems perspective, the Space Shuttle program intentionally crippled human space flight for over half a century, and the SLS is building on that legacy.
An aspect of Elon's activities which confuse the issue, is that Elon does not rely on advertising, he relies on generating buzz. I know all the nasty things the media constantly says tend to hurt his feelings. To everyone's astonishment, the news media are uniform in throwing shade, particularly on Tesla. We stand amazed as the financial media clowns routinely publish outright lies and forecast eternal doom, while Tesla progresses from one revolutionary success to the next.Next, my Tesla comes and picks me up at the airport, then drives me home while I snooze. Followed by dropping me off and going Uber, making me money instead of purely sucking it from my bank account like a petrosaur, which rips us off for several grand the moment we purchase one, lol. An oligarchic megapoly. Kleptomegapoly. Parasites.
55,000 miles, we've added electricity, washer fluid and tires, plus the annual service, things like wiper blades and the air filter. Because of the Regenerative Braking, using the motors as generators to recharge the battery, we've never even had to replace brake-pads. Your lovely sweetheart is done hanging around sleazy gas-stations, breathing toxic fumes, handling filthy gas nozzles.
You know on a glorious Tesla roadtrip as soon as you start driving, by looking at the screen, where you will stop next to recharge, and you know it will be a safe, clean, often even classy place with amenities, to stop and refresh. Your car automatically calculates when you need to recharge, and navigates you to the next Supercharger.
What will the petropoly do, when people realize Tesla is building their cars to last 1,000,000 miles--you read that right, one million miles. The petropoly could have made cars last that long if they wanted to, in the 1940's.
Zero oil-changes or tuneups. Your own low-flying aerospace vehicle, which will pay for itself, earning you cash as an autonomous taxi while you sleep.
A petrosaur is essentially engineered to connect an ecosystem of feeders to your bank account: petro pumpers, dino-dealers, parts manufacturers, oil refineries etc, and your banker, via planned obsolescence. Parasites, by definition. Unless you heat your house by burning cash, your petrosaur is the most obscene money-hole you will ever purchase, functioning in your life as a parasite, with you as the host.
The petrosaur automobile industry has also entirely earned their impending face-plants at his hand. The next time you drive down the boulevard between all the car dealerships, think:by Author
The creeps who have been fighting to offer us nothing but the Flintstones all our lives, are about to get left in the dust as Elon Musk launches us straight into the Jetsons.
Tesla is focusing their engineering on the goal of coming as close as possible to zeroing-out seeing you at the Tesla Store for a million miles after you buy yours, for anything other than the above, and upgrading your Model 3 to an S, X, Y, Roadster or Cybertruck. It is going to take awhile for this to sink in: a car as an asset.
A Tesla is an Asset.
Instead of celebrating his attempt to bring actual electric cars to market, the very same people, who have been frothing at us all our lives chanting how vital saving the environment is: directly lied about an MIT report on how much cleaner electricity produced by coal-fired power plants is compared to burning petro in automobiles, throwing shade on Tesla claiming the opposite!? And all the other gaslighting, eco virtue-signaling talking-heads across the board parroted the same lie. They are still parroting it.
These creeps also uniformly fail to mention at all in this context, that Tesla has been investing hundreds of millions into the Tesla Solar City Gigafactory, already mass-producing solar panels, well on their way to becoming the world's largest supplier of advanced solar panels for powering Teslas and our homes, without needing any coal-fired power plants.
Actually, we already know the petropoly's response to all this environmentally-friendly ultra-coolness. The entire Fake News media apparatus is not only out to hurt Tesla, they collude with google, facebook and twitter, coordinating their activities with short-sellers, trying to kill Tesla. As American as Apple Worms.
He understands that all publicity is ultimately good publicity, because it generates buzz. He rolls with the incessant shade-throwing, leveraging it to promote his spectacular products and ideas. Taking a hit on a joint during an interview might not have been one of his better ideas in this regard, I guarantee he took a drug test and passed it immediately afterwards. The Tony Stark thing sells cars, which is the key to actually succeeding in mass-producing them. So he does things that appear reckless and sensational, on purpose, and is getting better at doing that as well. Why, the SEC, is even assisting him with his tweets.
The petrosaur automobile industry has also entirely earned their impending face-plants at his hand. The next time you drive down the boulevard between all the car dealerships, think:
The creeps who have been fighting to offer us nothing but the Flintstones all our lives, are about to get left in the dust as Elon Musk launches us straight into the Jetsons.
Have no fear regarding SpaceX's decision to try out stainless shipbuilding. If it does not work, they will as quickly abandon it as they pivoted to trying it, but don't hold your breath. Steel is likely the deal. That's exactly how they have succeeded at so many audacious, supposedly impossible things. Many failures trying and testing, some known and many more unknown, behind each success.
Elon knows he could build this version of Starship and her Super Heavy booster out of composites, as fiddly as they are. He just verified, that the even more humongous version which is coming next, possibly 1.5x or more in girth and likely even taller than the current iteration, which is required to get the payload-to-vehicle mass-ratio low enough to make Mars colonization viable, cannot be built out of composites. At those sizes and above, an inch thickness of steel beats a foot-thick composite structure at any temperature.
Look at the payload performance this chart shows, particularly Apollo Saturn V compared to Starship + Super Heavy at the far right. To succeed, we need a vehicle that at minimum lofts half-again more payload relative to the overall vehicle size!
They key to this chart is not primarily a revolution in technology, though Merlin rocket engines, followed by Raptor's even more impressive specs are certainly key. It is largely a direct consequence of how much fuel the thing can blast its way into the air carrying.
The exponentiating volume of an expanding sphere. The larger a sphere or cylinder is, at large sizes, the hugely less the mass of the structure becomes relative to the overall mass-volume it encompasses: the propellant and payload. Looking at the progression above, we see that enormous rockets are capable of launching 30 or 40x the payload an ordinary modern-day rocket can loft. And if you can get the rocket back in one piece after..!
This is not exactly a startling new idea, though they were planning on it raining into the ocean in pieces after. This was the thinking behind building Sea Dragon. Build a monster rocket out of steel, ditching finicky, expensive aerospace clean-room techniques, building it out of steel using submarine and steel-tank building tech.
The Apollo guys could likely have built a booster like Super Heavy which was capable of landing after launch. It simply did not dawn on them it was possible, so they didn't try it goes back to learning to ask the right questions. SpaceX is building it, standing on the shoulders of both the mighty Apollo achievements and their own.