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The Space Exploration Achievements Thread

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Stephen Hawking, Mark Zukerberg and Russian Billionaire Yuri Milner are planning to send probes to Alpha Centauri.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/12/us/breakthrough-starshot-space-probe-stephen-hawking-feat/index.html

 

Not an achievement as of yet, but I'm glad to see rich and influential people pushing for more space exploration.

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Updated Falcon variants payload chart;

i5pEAVd.jpg

28 tons to LEO is more than I expected for Falcon 9.

Yep, they've really created something special with that rocket. The latest variants outlift anything without boosters in that class.

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Awwww. They lost stage 1 on landing.  :( Sadpanda.

 

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/743096769001578498

 

Edit: What blows my mind is that the telemetry data is so good that in less than an hour they know exactly what went wrong. And from the sound of it, they were already working on a fix before it even happened.  Loss was caused by low thrust on one of the landing engines.  Elon's saying it might be the hardest landing yet for them.

 

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/743099301174247424

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It isn't an achievement yet, but Elon is an ambitious bastard, if nothing else.  I hope he pulls it off. Heck, if he can make the second stage of Falcon Heavy reusable... that would be pretty freaking cool.  But naw... we gotta get ready to head to Mars.

 

 

http://gizmodo.com/spacex-will-attempt-to-land-three-rockets-at-once-1783908606?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

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http://spaceflight101.com/spacex-completes-first-test-firing-of-raptor-interplanetary-transport-engine/#.V-kGV_Fk6D4.facebook

 

SpaceX tested the Raptor engine.

I'll let the tech minded folks/KSP nerds do commentary. 

 

 

This one is different because it's more focused on efficiency than their previous designs.  The merlin engine is open cycle LOX/kerosene, which is a good choice for getting off the ground and into space.  Open cycle is simpler and lighter, but loses a bit of efficiency.  LOX/kerosene is a compromise between good efficiency and good thrust.  Getting off the ground requires excellent thrust to weight ratio because of that hateful gravity nonsense, so efficiency can come in second place.  LOX/kerosene is also a bit less of a PITA to deal with than LOX/hydrogen because only the oxidizer needs to be kept at cryogenic temperatures.  Liquid propellants that can be stored at room temperature, like the ones the Chinese just used on their recent launch, are horrifyingly toxic, while LOX/kerosene is pretty benign.  Obviously, things can still go wrong and explode.

 

This new stage uses staged combustion and LOX/CH4, which is AFAIK is a new propellant combination.  On paper it's less efficient than LOX/hydrogen, but more efficient than LOX/kerosene.  Liquid CH4 should be less of a PITA to store than liquid hydrogen.  Also, liquid CH4 is much denser than liquid hydrogen, which will reduce the size of the fuel tank and thus the drag when taking off through the atmosphere.  Their LOX/CH4 rocket will probably have an inferior thrust to weight ratio compared to their current LOX/kerosene, but that's OK; it's an upper stage for when the vehicle is already in orbit, so high thrust isn't needed as much and efficiency is paramount.

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