Before we can go to Mars, we will want to ensure that the spacecrafts taking us there are as safe, fast, and efficient as possible. In this post I will be looking at how the rocket has been redesigned by the newspace industry, and design challenges currently being worked on.
Spaceflight has become much cheaper
with the recent innovations in rocket design and manufacturing spearheaded by commercial spaceflight pioneer Elon Musk. Although he is secretive about manufacturing details, he attributes the lowered cost and reliable functioning to the simplicity of the design, along with versatility. His ideal is a streamlined rocket that will work for a number of different applications with minimal modifications.
SpaceX engines have a flaw, it was recently discovered. Specifically, it is the turbopumps in the Merlin engines that we briefly looked at last week. There is growing concern that cracks in the turbines could lead to unsafe conditions, although they have been designed to withstand this to a certain amount. This could potentially lead to —-. However, Musk has downplayed the concerns, calling it “a routine design problem” , nothing to fuss over. However, we have learned from past disasters that any design flaw in a rocket that will be carrying human beings should be taken seriously.
The Falcon 9 rockets
have had two accidents in the past few years, with one explosion resulting from a breach in the oxygen tank, and the other , similarly, from a leak in the ‘”cryogenic helium system” of the vehicle’s upper oxygen tank,’, apparently it was due to the liquid helium pooling in the tank. This was exacerbated by the helium being kept at a lower temperature than usual for the sake of speed. They are taking the problem seriously and are working on resolving it, although it seems to be a multifaceted problem with the exact cause varying in different instances. You can learn more about part of the problem here:
Boeing has its share of design problems too,
with reports that the dome of the crew module has been cracking, a scenario which would be very bad in the vacuum of space, just to state the obvious. Boeing is taking this seriously, with plans to rectify the problem. However, this will set them back somewhat; it could take six months longer than expected, and the new schedule has the first crewed test flight set for the summer of next year.
I just scratched the surface in this post, so I hope to do further exploration of design challenges that are currently being dealt with. Thank you for reading. If you are interested in learning more about breaking developments in the commercial space industry, you can conveniently have notifications sent to you by subscribing. As always, I would love to hear from you. How am I doing? See you next week, when I hope to start getting more into the human aspects space exploration.