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Thread: SpaceX's Dragon XL

  1. #1
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    SpaceX's Dragon XL

    SpaceX to develop a new cargo module for supplies to the moon.

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2020...pply-contract/

    While SpaceX has a long history of launch resupply missions to the International Space Station, first with the Cargo Dragon and soon with its Dragon 2/Cargo version of it Crew Dragon, the GLS contract has revealed a new variant of the spacecraft.

    Named the Dragon XL, this large cargo vehicle – which looks more like a large Cygnus XL vehicle than a traditional Dragon design – will be launched by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. SpaceX notes that the vehicle will be optimized to carry more than five metric tons of cargo to Gateway in lunar orbit.
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    which looks more like a large Cygnus XL vehicle
    Presumably this is because a return to Earth isn't planned for this "module". But I admit to not reading the whole mission plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bknight View Post
    Presumably this is because a return to Earth isn't planned for this "module". But I admit to not reading the whole mission plan.
    https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/03/2...n-lunar-orbit/

    In an interview with Spaceflight Now, Wiese said the initial cargo missions to the Gateway will deliver supplies to the station, but won’t return hardware or lunar samples to Earth. NASA could add a request for return capability in the future, he said.
    Note that it's just concept art, and it's not even clear if SpaceX originated it. However, it looks as though it might be a "collar" that fits around the top of a more typical reentry capsule shape, which could allow the capsule to be returned if NASA eventually decides they want that capability.

    If it is a Cygnus-like cylinder, they might make a variant with added propellant tanks that can dock to a Cargo Dragon and serve as a propulsion module to deliver it to the Gateway.

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    I thought the gateway idea was abandoned? Or is this a SpaceX gateway vs. NASA?

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    I thought the gateway idea was abandoned? Or is this a SpaceX gateway vs. NASA?
    NASA's decided to keep throwing resources away on it, even though it's not part of the Artemis moon landing mission. Loverro is spinning it being unnecessary as somehow now allowing him to keep it, and insists it's still somehow a part of "sustainable" exploration plans, even if we'll actually be going to the moon without it.

    https://spacenews.com/spacex-wins-na...lunar-gateway/

    “Frankly, had we not done that simplification, I was going to have to cancel Gateway because I couldn’t afford it,” Loverro said at the meeting. “By simplifying it and taking it out of the critical path, I can now keep it on track.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/03/2...n-lunar-orbit/

    Note that it's just concept art, and it's not even clear if SpaceX originated it.

    If it is a Cygnus-like cylinder,
    SpaceX artwork.

    It is.

    It'll launch in the standard 5.2 meter FH fairing, so no need for the Dragon 1 style arrays to have covers. It'll also have an uncovered grapple fixture for Gateway's Canadarm, which it will carry uphill piggyback. Once DXL is docked the arm will walk itself to the Gateway and attach to a grapple fixture there.

    What's unknown is if it has docking ports at booth ends. The image shows it on the way to the Moon, but the visible port is facing the FH upper stage. Did it turn around, or...? If it does have 2 ports it could do duty as a habitat module or free flyer which happens to have propulsion & power generation..
    Last edited by docmordrid; 2020-Mar-29 at 03:10 AM.

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    I suspect there's still a battle going on in congress as Boeing lobbies hard to go with the 'one piece' lander concept that only SLS could fly while others seem to be still committed to the Gateway. Frankly I think not being wholly dependent on SLS might be Gateway's best selling point, though it could all be academic if Starship enters service in the next couple of years

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    Gateway only exists because Orion's ESA-built service module has insufficient deltaV to reach low lunar orbit and return.

    That's just one problem; SLS has software problems which have been kicked down the road, and other things related to Boeing-itis.

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    Could this be launched to LEO on a single core as an AXIOM-type ISS module?
    With Bigelow out of the way, this simple craft might be a best seller—if Starship is delayed.
    I can even see it as a rescue tug to a crippled craft.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Gateway only exists because Orion's ESA-built service module has insufficient deltaV to reach low lunar orbit and return.

    That's just one problem; SLS has software problems which have been kicked down the road, and other things related to Boeing-itis.
    Could you enumerate such problems?

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