Profile image
Story Views

Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

SpaceX moving fast on Mars rocket development, BFR tent spied with more tooling

Sunday, April 15, 2018 14:11
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

Photos taken by Teslarati photographer Pauline Acalin have confirmed that SpaceX’s massive Mars rocket fabrication tooling has been hiding in plain sight at the company’s Port of San Pedro tent facility.

Spotted inside the temporary structure thanks to open flaps and a human desire for a breeze amidst the warm Los Angeles springtime, the main cylindrical component is truly vast – large enough that the eye almost glazes over it at first glance. Dwarfing the humans clambering about it, very rough estimates using knowledge of the tent’s reported area (20,000 square feet) and size comparisons with machinery blueprints suggest a diameter of around 8-10 meters (26-36 feet), loosely conforming to the expected 9m diameter of BFR, as of CEO Elon Musk’s IAC 2017 update. Recently, however, President Gwynne Shotwell showed off an updated Mars rocket video at TED2018 that led to Musk hinting that BFR may have grown slightly since then.

SpaceX’s massive BFR manufacturing tool peeked out from the company’s Port-side tent facility. (Pauline Acalin)

The massive cylindrical structure teased by Musk earlier this month is most likely a mandrel, a tool that can be spun on its horizontal axis to weave predetermined structures. In the case of the Mars rocket mandrel, it will likely be used to carefully wind dozens or hundreds of layers of carbon fiber (known as prepreg), interspersed with layers of laminate and various epoxies and resins. It’s also possible, however, that the massive tool is instead a multipurpose mold and autoclave, where the composite layers would be lain on the inside of the cylinder, allowed to set, and eventually sealed inside and heat/pressure treated.

Images of the machinery are fairly ambiguous: they show a structure that could have connection points one might find on an autoclave, as well as what appears to be a thick and well-insulated internal wall. However, the external skin appears to be a relatively thin sheet of metal, which would point more towards a traditional composite mandrel, where certain sheets could be removed or modified as needed to create desired shapes in the composite while it’s being formed, less risky than machining a completed segment.

Perhaps even more interesting, a number of massive metal structures were spotted just outside of the tent. While it is unclear what exactly their purpose was, is, or will be, it’s more likely than not that they are components of a carbon composite mold or layup structure meant to deal with fabrication of certain Mars rocket and spaceship components with complex curves, versus the relatively simple cylinders that BFR and BFS are largely comprised of. Still, precedents exist in large aerospace composite manufacturing for the fabrication of structures with complex curves, most notably the nose and front sections of airliners like Boeing’s 787.

Finally, it’s worth noting just how shockingly busy the BFR tent was on both April 13th and 14th, as well as the 8th (the first day Pauline visited the facility). With upwards of 40 cars parked at the tent, it’s blindingly clear that SpaceX is not simply using the tent as a temporary storage location – alongside the arrival of composite fabrication materials (prepreg sheets, epoxy, etc) from Airtech International, SpaceX undeniably intends to begin initial fabrication of the first BFR prototypes in this tent Berth 240 Mars rocket factory, although they will likely eventually move the activities to their . That’s certainly not a sentence I ever expected to write, but it is what it is.

Follow us for live updates, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and a sea of beautiful photos from our East and West coast photographers.

Teslarati   –   InstagramTwitter

Tom CrossTwitter

Pauline Acalin Twitter

Eric Ralph Twitter

The post SpaceX moving fast on Mars rocket development, BFR tent spied with more tooling appeared first on TESLARATI.com.



Source: https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-bfr-tent-spy-shot-mars-rocket-tooling-molds/

We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories
 

Featured

Loading...

Top Global

Top Alternative

 

Register

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.