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Published on Mar 8, 2017
Last week SpaceX announced that two tourists have paid them - probably $45million each - for a manned flight around the Moon aboard the Dragon. The flight is scheduled to take place in late 2018, possibly to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, and is to be launched by the Falcon 9 Heavy.
This is obviously a huge problem. In my previous videos, I showed that Elon Musk and SpaceX were being recklessly cavalier about the radiation hazard on a flight to Mars - erroneously believing that it can be survived simply by pointing a column of water towards the Sun, when in fact the shield needs to completely surround the crew. It seems they are showing that same attitude to a flight to the Moon.
The Dragon spacecraft's pressure hull and thermal protection system offer the equivalent of about 1.4g/cm^2 of aluminum shielding. Such a shield will only attenuate protons with energies up to ~3MeV. The inner Van Allen belt is composed of protons with energies up to 400MeV. Using the AP-8 Max fluxes for the coordinates that have been attributed to Apollo 11, and after applying the correction factor for the under-predictions of the AP-8 and proton Q-factor of 5, we find that astronauts on a flight aboard Dragon would receive a doss of about 101rad from 3-400MeV protons.
The only way the tourists will survive a flight to the Moon aboard Dragon without a shelter module would be to depart and return on a trajectory inclined to the geomagnetic poles by less than 20°, or approximately 60° to 82° North or South of the geographical equator. Beyond such latitudes is where the Van Allen electron fluxes become negligible. Such a trajectory would take the Dragon through this radiation free zone, what James Van Allen called "cones of escape".
To shelter against solar flares, the mission would have to be timed to coincide with the Full Moon. During such time, the Moon passes through the tail of the Earth's magnetosphere, which deflects much of the solar and cosmic radiation. Transferring astronauts to and from the Moon through this magnetotail has previously been proposed by Harnett & Winglee 2007.
It is my genuine fear that if SpaceX does not incorporate these methods described above, the lunar tourists will die from the space radiation. I urge viewers to mirror this video and share it with Elon Musk.
I also encourage viewers to donate to the PayPal account email@example.com
I aim to raise $45 million so that I can purchase my own ticket aboard this Dragon flight and ensure that the mission trajectory and launch window is on a more survivable path.