Many thanks to the Royal Aeronautical Society for organising the lecture by Elon Musk last Friday. Many thanks also to Elon for being an engaging and entertaining speaker, and for patiently answering the stream of questions from the audience. The catering in the evening networking event was also excellent, I particularly enjoyed the quails' eggs on toast ;-)
In the absence of a proper review article, here are my Twitter notes from the meeting:-
At RAeS pic.twitter.com/hladUEXQ
Elon Musk! It's been 4 1/2 years since last talk #timeflies
Discussing early Falcon 1 failures
Thanks investors for keeping faith
Definition of RUD gets a laugh
Video of Grasshopper
Expects a few craters along the way
Propellant only 0.3% of total cost of rocket, hence need for rapid reusability
0.25-0.5% of GDP for self-sustaining colony on mars would probably be acceptable to public
Need 4% payload to orbit in expendable mode, no more than 2% mass penalty for reusability
Bring back first stage "in the next year or two"
Full reusability in 5-6 years #elonmusk "could be famous last words"
Discussing FH, possible larger Mars launcher
RF9 video #elonmusk "not entirely physically accurate" (laughter)
Dragon version 2 will be unveiled soon. Version 1 "we didn't really know what we were doing" (laughter)
SuperDracos 6-8gs, will boost through sound barrier in 4s
Discussing per-person costs of Mars colonisation effort. "The cheapest fuel is methane, you can make it on Mars"
380s ISP achievable with methane. Vehicle needs to be big for Mars trip
Dragon science delivery package for any solid surface in solar system
Musk prefers Big Smart Booster, turbopumps are a good thing, pressure fed not sufficient for deep space
Won't discuss bigelow aerospace mission, "talk to Bob"
46 launches on manifest, NASA about 1/4 of business 4-5 launches next year.
Wants to decrease workload, when Tesla cash flow positive.
publish hyper loop idea later this year and solicit comments
Hopes for friendly competition with China
Physiological challenges of Mars "won't be too bad"
Inevitable question about Skylon. Elon not convinced about air breathing payoff, "but I could be wrong"
MCT is not an engine. Only engine development is Raptor, which is a methane engine
Would like to go to Mars, if businesses can be left in good hands
Ariane 6 needs serious rethinking or it'll be pointless exercise
Elon not convinced by O'Neill vision of space colonies
Earth plants will grow in Mars soil, can synth fertiliser from air
Long term, could move to airline model for RLVs. Won't guess at market size
Elon hadn't heard of Kerbal Space Program ;-D
Elon Musk awarded Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal
Musk said the new rocket, which he calls MCT, will be "several times" as powerful as the 1 Merlin series, and won't use Merlin's RP-1 fuel. Beyond adding that it will have "a very big core size", he declined to elaborate, promising more details in "between one and three years".
Musk declined to say what 'MCT' stands for, and declined to answer further questions on the project.
During an April interview, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell discussed a project with similar characteristics, describing engines with "more than 1.5 million pounds" of thrust.