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SLS and Orion

SLS Proceeds – Destination/Justification Still TBD

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
June 21, 2012
Filed under

NASA Space Launch System Core Stage Moves From Concept to Design
“The nation’s space exploration program is taking a critical step forward with a successful major technical review of the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before.”
Boeing Successfully Completes Key Reviews of Space Launch System
“Boeing last week successfully completed its first major technical reviews for the cryogenic stages of the Space Launch System (SLS), bringing the team into the design phase for the nation’s next heavy-lift, human-rated rocket.”
Keith’s note: Alas, NASA has no budget for the payloads that would fly on this rocket, no firm destination(s) identified, and no rationale offered as to how this rocket will be cheaper than using commercial alternatives.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

83 responses to “SLS Proceeds – Destination/Justification Still TBD”

  1. DocM says:
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    The Rocket to Nowhere ūüėõ

  2. Synthguy says:
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    Sigh – how can NASA proceed with this when the US government is about to fall off the fiscal cliff with ‘taxarmaggedon’ and ‘sequestration’ on the horizon? Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to see another Saturn class heavy lift vehicle on the pad providing a) we could afford one, b) it could fly regularly, and c) it could send payload and crew to somewhere meaningful – the Moon, the NEAs and Mars in that order of priority – for the US to have direction and focus with its manned space programme. But right at the moment, there is nothing, and no money to afford this, so this will end up a paper rocket just like all the other attempts. A sad, pathetic way to run a Space Programme. Time to hand over the torch to commercial space and get out of their way!

    Malcolm Davis
    Gold Coast, Australia

    • mattblak says:
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      Don’t forget that this is a Presidential Election year and NASA looks like its keeping a low profile, so as not to frighten pundits of the both the Left and the Right: unveil ‘grandiose’ space exploration plans now and it would give the Romney camp ammunition to accuse Obama of ‘reckless spending in tight fiscal times’ on ‘science fiction fantasies’.

      if anyone thinks this is wrong; similar things have happened every time Space has been brought up in debates or when candidates release their Space policies. Look how GW Bush was pilliored for Constellation, which is part of the reason he became VERY quiet on space matters thereafter. President Obama has undoubtedly lost votes on the Space Coast, post CXP cancellation – with only vague promises and direction to follow it. Look how Newt Gingrich was laughed at for his so-called ‘Moon Colony’. If the Romney camp announced big space plans, Space would be one of many¬†election bones to chew and watch the arguments begin!! What should NASA do until the election is concluded? Keep a low profile while working on sensible, viable and hopefully sustainable plans. For real, this time…

    • thebigMoose says:
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      Malcolm you are spot on. ¬†They can’t pull back spending too much with this recession/depression running full throttle; but the minute we are chugging out of the hole, and year on year growth say hits 3.x% they have to throw the hammer into the government spending machine and slow it way down. ¬†Spend in recession; and cut the budget during growth. ¬†Major, inevitable cuts are coming…

  3. mattblak says:
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    And the SLS bashing starts… NOW.

    • no one of consequence says:
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      How else do you deal with bad policy?

      add:
      Bad policy was with Bush who didn’t stick with OSP/EELV/spirals, but got lobbied into CxP which was doomed from the start, then Obama got the gift of being able to write the epitath on a long dead CxP to look more fiscally responsible than Republicans. He foxed them again with repositioning COTS/CCDEV against CxP redux SLS, which succeeded while SLS consumed more w/o success.

      Romney will kill SLS (or CxP) if given the chance, and would replace it with another “study” to do the same cost effectively, kicking the can down to another administration willing to spend the money than him. But he won’t tell you that.

      Space cadets are so naive.

      • newpapyrus says:
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        Bad policy was when President Obama decided to give NASA no beyond LEO program at all.

        Marcel F. Williams

        • no one of consequence says:
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           Never was a beyond LEO program. Except for fools.

        • meekGee says:
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          Marcel, this is getting old.

          A COTS-based program meant that whether going to the Moon, NEO, or Mars, NASA would have the same budget, but with only a small fraction of it going towards launch.

          That you can fail to see this means you’re either blind, dumb, or deaf. ¬†Or just politically motivated beyond any reason.

      • mattblak says:
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        I’m not that naive!!¬†Most everything you say is true – I’ve been watching this tortuous cycle for decades

    • John Gardi says:
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       matt:

      Game on!

      tinker

  4. Littrow says:
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    I think you are all looking at it the wrong way.

    The plan is to spend about $2.5 billion every year on a big rocket through a cost plus contract. Start up costs might be a bit higher.  The underlying goal is ensuring that some NASA and a large number of contractor employees continue working on big rockets for the foreseeable future.

    As long as they can develop, then build and fly the vehicle every so often for that kind of a continuing investment, everybody is happy (well, maybe not the people who actually want to accomplish something in space). If the rocket only flies every year or two, that is fine. The goal is not launching rockets, it is continuing to spend money to maintain employment and organizations.

    Similarly, human space flight programs will be consuming about $5 billion per year on a continuing basis and in addition to the amount being spent on SLS; also to ensure that some NASA and a large number of contractor employees continue working. Out of this principle, the question becomes, what can NASA afford to build and which missions can it accomplish for this continuing investment. Unfortunately, as long as ISS continues to use half of the allotted budget, and as long as Orion continues to use all of the rest of the funding, which is the plan for the next 10 years, then little or nothing else gets done.

    It is not a concern that Orion is redundant with vehicles like Dragon. Remember, the goal is maintaining employment and organizations, not doing the most you can with the resources you have.

    If you are saying that someone ought to be looking at making things cost effective, and getting the most bang for the buck, and that might mean following a commercial model, that is not the plan. No one seems to be focused on a goal of doing the most they can with the limited resources available.

    Now, if NASA leadership were doing their collective jobs, they would be looking at better use of their limited resources and would be establishing goals they could support. However, NASA is not in a mission or goal oriented mode. NASA is in a ’10 healthy center’ survival mode.

    • Steve Whitfield says:
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      Littrow,
       
      You know, aside from the ‚ÄúNASA 10 healthy cente‚ÄĚ bit, you almost sound like you approve of the plan as¬†you‚Äôve described it.¬† I would have thought that by now people would have realized that nothing is preserved (let alone furthered) by a policy¬†of stagnation.
       
      Steve
       

      • Littrow says:
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        I never said I agreed with what I explained. Its just that I believe that this is how NASA and its support elements are functioning.

        • Steve Whitfield says:
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          Sorry, I didn’t mean to be accusatory.  I agree it seems like that’s their SOP.  Any ideas on how beneficial change can be forced on them, and by whom?  I must admit, it often seems hopeless to me, and things will drift along for ever much as they have for the last 30-40 years.

          Steve

          • Littrow says:
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             It takes leadership and know-how to change.

            You have to question why does ISS continue to cost as much as it did a
            decade ago when it was still in the assembly phase or 20 years ago when
            it was still in the design, build and test phase. If leadership
            recognizes there is too much money going into maintaining the status quo
            and they need to move some of those people into doing new, different 
            and productive things, that frees up resources for other projects.

            Likewise for Orion. Why is it taking NASA billions of dollars, tens of
            thousands of people, and 15 years to develop a retro-capsule that Elon
            Musk is able to do in 5 years and for under a billion dollars?

            Streamline the processes, reduce the manpower and reduce the schedule
            and you free up the resources to be engaged in other projects. It costs
            you no more in total but you accomplish much more, much more quickly.

            Of course, if you do not know how to do the job and feel that large
            numbers of people sitting and staring at one another in conference rooms
            is really beneficial or just makes you feel more comfortable, maintain
            the status quo. In that case Elon may start flying US crews in a few
            years. Orion flies sometime in the 2020s, a decade or more away, mainly
            doing nothing more than Apollo 8 style missions. Eventually maybe enough
            funds are freed to develop a mission module that allows it to do a fly
            by of Venus or maybe eventually an asteroid rendezvous. Landers are more
            expensive so no landings anywhere for 20, 30 years, or more?

    • no one of consequence says:
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      ¬†American’s don’t like paying for failure. Political doomsday machine.

      • DTARS says:
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        Dam right

        Joe Taxpayer

        We only have to wait a decade what’s the big deal? What are we waiting for again? We don’t know?? Well I’ll wait on Elon then. He seems to be doing something.

  5. Christopher Miles says:
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    I feel as if I should create some kind of Senate Launch System spending clock- like many of the debt clocks that are out there. To be kind, I may not add the costs of Constellation. Or maybe I should.

    mattblak¬† – I don’t know if it’s bashing, as much as it is a¬†concern¬†about the why of the thing.I have no doubt that given 20 billion we can get something big, heavy, and pretty cool off the ground.We seem to waste money up to 5 ¬†billion, and after that (some portion at least) gets done. I’m looking at you, Orion.

    Generally, after we’ve¬†committed¬†5+ billion, and assuming we are not the DOD- we do indeed build something.

    So, lets not be fooled here.¬†Do we want a 20 billion dollar rocket system for a mission we have yet to define? Asteroids? Maybe Mars… maybe?
    Can’t those scores of middle men at Boeing and LockMart just make a living from my tax money in the usual way- (Inevitable cost overruns on 767 conversions to tankers, F-35 overruns, etc?)

    Is it truly in our national interest to spend money (borrow money from China)¬†in this particular way?- And, if National Security is the justification – wouldn’t this money be better spent in the DOD itself via a focused Darpa/AirForce program?

    I have a new measure of success-¬†instead¬†of “bang for the buck”- it should be “bang for the debt”.

    • mattblak says:
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      I’m not a U.S. citizen, so its not my taxpayer dollar. But I’ve been following the U.S. space program for about 40 years and while I’m aware of the deficits and economic problems – there MUST be a way to do manned space exploration beyond Earth orbit without using¬†economic fragility as the sole reason NOT to do it. As has been pointed out over and over again by Neil Degrasse-Tyson and others: the U.S. taxpayer space program is much less than half a penny per federal discretionary dollar!! My opinion is relative and might even be irrelevant – but as much as I’d like to see a potentially awesome exploration tool like SLS, I’ve believed for years – and from discussions I’ve had with Boeing and LockMart engineers – that upgraded Evolved Expendable Launchers like Delta IV-Heavy and Atlas V would have been good enough and far cheaper to boot. And with Space X’s potential Falcon Heavy; SURELY those 3 launcher vehicles would be lifting capability enough for the U.S?

      Or if the vested interests and politicians simply MUST use Shuttle-Derived components; surely the Side Mount Heavy Lift vehicle touted by John Shannon and his team a couple years back would have been, while much less capable than Block 2 SLS concepts – good enough and billions cheaper to boot?!

      • Ralphy999 says:
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        I am not aware that anybody from officaldom and “seriously in the know” that has suggested the US can’t afford a mission beyond earth orbit. There are always NASA detractors and other folks who resent any funds that are spent on space instead of welfare or tax cuts but they ain’t in power right now. Republican controlled congress or otherwise. Ditto for the democrat white house.

      • Paul451 says:
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        “if [they] MUST use Shuttle-Derived components; surely the Side Mount Heavy Lift vehicle touted by John Shannon and his team a couple years back would have been […] good enough and billions cheaper to boot?!”

        No. Once Not-The-Shuttle-C was the primary HSF program, it would have gone the same way as Constellation/SLS. It’s not the design that’s necessarily a failure (after all, there’s nothing controversial about a stick rocket), it’s the way projects are handled at NASA.

  6. Rob says:
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    You guys whining about money¬†have a gap in understanding how the government works.¬†¬† The government takes money from the productive¬†economy and allocates it to other activities.¬† Thats all they really do.¬† They can take it by taxation (currently ~40%) or “printing money” and selling debt (currently 60%), i.e. devaluing the currency.¬†

    What¬†they do with this money could be for one in¬†2 americans to be on some kind of government assitance, give Pakistanis¬†military assistance, condoms and aids drugs for africans, a presidents pet war,¬†some failed bankers bonuses, or to keep some very intelligent American rocket engineers employed.¬† One could argue the merits of any of these activities.¬† But to argue about less than 1% of the budget and say there is no money to keep your engineers and scientists employed is asinine.¬† They don’t even have to print the money anymore, its digital.

    You guys are bitching about the fleas on the 800lb gorilla in the room.

    • Christopher Miles says:
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      @Robert-

      @facebook-1064843977 
      So basically your guy’s subsidy is better than the other guy’s?

      Government should do what business can’t (due to¬†corporate¬†short time horizons /activities not in best interest of one specific company, etc) Keeping intelligent engineers working on a project with sketchy merit is of the same value as spending on a barely justifiable war.

      As far as the social safety net.. Of course there is tremendous waste there, but that does not justify waste in the Rocket program.

      Wanna make the case for why Arsenal Space is better? Show me that the big boys can spend our money wisely, rather than pick on the hackneyed straw men of welfare queens, or condoms for Africa.

      (BTW, less Aids in Africa is a good thing. Compassion should not stop at the waters edge. God knows we profit plenty from the third world. Is it so hard to give a little back?)

      Ok, so basically, if you can prove to me that this time my 20+ Billion will truly get us some Mars-capable infrastructure and not just line the pockets of big ole space companies and their legion of middlemen, (see:$100 Billion dollar underutilized ISS) I’m all for it.

      Continuing the Virtual Oligopoly of Congress/NASA/Big Aerospace will simply make for continued dysfunction. Witness history- Even before the X-33 debacle- Lots of nearly built hanger queens. Not much in the way of landings.  

      Want to believe otherwise?I’ve got a Sverdrup built unused launch pad at Edwards I’d like to sell you. (Or, even better- the 4 Billion dollar remains of Slick 6 for Shuttle at Vandenberg)

      Waste is waste.

      • Rob says:
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        I suppose you are entitled to your opinion on the value of war versus maintaining space capability, but it’s definitely not your $20 billion.¬†¬†¬†

        • Christopher Miles says:
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          We have a space capability already without this extra program to nowhere.

          We have the private sector going great guns, and for “National Defense” we have Atlas, Delta, KH Satellites,X-37, etc etc.¬†Waste is waste.

          Put National Defense research programs solely at DARPA/DOD then really tell me (and yes it’s my money too) why I am helping pay for this engineering folly at NASA.

          Case Study from history:

          Before your time, we spent a ton of money keeping engineers at North American employed designing, engineering and building the XB70. After all that spending and “employment”, it was still not not fast enough to outrun projected new 1970s’ era Soviet Missiles. Hence development of Stealth. (Ironically, F-117 was able to be shot down by a clever Serb using simple cell phone triangulation)

          So describe for me a real mission- and I am there.

          I love Space & have great respect for NASA people!

          I am not against Space. I am against spending without clear purpose. I am against¬†lobbyists, and that great fleet of program managers with their power points, and their scope creep and their Six Sigma nonsense who’ve not ever set foot on a factory floor or seen a test bench.

          We are funding the private schools for the children of executives living in Woodbridge, in Alexandria, in Arlington. 

          We do not have a comprehensive Rocket program.

    • no one of consequence says:
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       But to argue about less than 1% of the budget and say there is no money
      to keep your engineers and scientists employed is asinine.

      It is asinine to employ them in a make work project.

      Let them get jobs at SpaceX, ULA, Orbital, Boeing, Lockheed, …

      If they get rejected there, what merit do they have to be employed? Because of their inherent “goodness”? Or your benevolence?

      We have to up our game, not do 1950’s designs that they think they might barely be able to do after $100B. What if China starts competing at the SpaceX level?

  7. Ralphy999 says:
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    The rocket is essential in keeping KSC alive. The VAB is being gutted and rebuilt for it, one of the shuttle hangers has been leased to Boeing and it is supposed to be gutted and rebuilt, the giant, moveable gantry is being remodeled to handle the SLS rocket, the crawler is being rebuilt and even the roadway out to the launch pad may have to be redug and regraveled. When Constellation was cancelled they decided to come up with a a list of proposed missions. So lets pick one and move forward. And for what it’s worth the Chinese are not our largest lenders; the major customers for US treasuries are our ownselves, the Federal Reserve and other US governmental agencies. Besides, the Chinese have to put their money somewhere; it might as well be US treasuries. You think they are gonna put it in Euros? I don’t think so.

    • Ben Russell-Gough says:
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      Personally, I wasn’t aware of this list of missions.¬† I know that there have been general principles discussed like ‘Flexible Path’ but, apart from the two Orion proving flights, no actual missions have been detailed to my knowledge.

      Perhaps you could educate us by letting us know which missions have been suggested and which you would personally support?

      • Ralphy999 says:
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        I’m not going to get into word games with you. You probably know as well I do that missions to an asteroid, Martian moon (Phobos?)¬†and Lagrange points were suggested as alternatives to a moon mission. I would do a Phobos mission. It wouldn’t require an extensive landing support program that a Martian base would and thus is well within our technical ability. ¬†Right now we just flat out don’t have the accuracy or precision that is needed to create a Martian base. It wouldn’t be needed for Phobos and it would capture the public’s attention. So what, pray tell, is your suggestion? Don’t worry, I won’t play word games with your ideas.

        • Synthguy says:
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          Problem with a Phobos mission is that you get all the way out there Рonly a few tens of thousands of kms from Mars, and you STOP! How frustrating would that be for the crew, and for the space community. If you are going to go to Mars, go to Mars, and land, and set up a base, and do it properly. Phobos is not going away, and can be explored at your leisure. 

          Of course, having said that, there is something to be said for using Phobos as a natural stepping stone for Mars surface operations, and I’d not be averse to that approach. My concern is we’d stop at Phobos and the money would not be there either for a permanent base on the surface, or setting up infrastructure and capability to go to Mars itself.¬†

          Provided the money is there, and provided using Phobos as a stepping stone did not delay a Mars landing for years or decades, then its worth considering – but those are two very big caveats in my view.

          • mattblak says:
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             The difference is about $40 Billion dollars! Designing and building a crew Habitat/Lander, an Ascent Vehicle and all the support equipment plus the technical breakthrough of landing about 40 or 50 tons of manned hardware on the Martian surface is a huge undertaking, as is large-scale ISRU. Going to Phobos for the FIRST manned Martian mission makes sense if there is a supporting Tele-Robotic infrastructure to assist the Astronauts. A short, Opposition class mission spending 30 or 40 days in Martian orbit Р1: Explore Phobos 2: Rendezvous with Sample Return probes fired up from several Martian surface sites 3: Tele-operate Rovers and other probes to explore the surface and maybe Deimos, too.

            By deferring the multi-Billion dollar development of a Habitat/Lander and Ascent Vehicles to the next Mars launch window, or maybe the one after that; you can get all the other mission vehicles, technology and infrastructure in place before spending the big money for the final necessary elements. The above-mentioned mission would be the equivalent of having Apollos 8, 9 & 10 combined into one mission, with the ‘Apollo 11’ following next time. But going to Mars is far more complex than Lunar missions, it goes without saying. Also; existing or soon-to-exist launchers and off-the-shelf ISS technology can be leveraged for a Phobos/Deimos mission. Anything more ambitious will cost far more and take far longer.

            My personal preference as a direction to go (with or without SLS) would be forgoing Asteroid missions altogether for awhile and going straight for a Phobos AND Deimos mission right from the get-go; but do a Venus flyby as a bonus. And pre-deploy lots of Sample Return probes and tele-operated Rovers on Mars first.

          • hikingmike says:
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            Sticking with one plan through several Mars launch windows seems beyond our capabilities to me. Something has to change first (run and fund NASA like the military?) before that’s attempted. We can’t even get new LEO capability ready in time to take over for the old.

        • Ben Russell-Gough says:
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          You’re missing the point.¬† The point is that there are only aspirations (going to asteroids, Phobos, etc) with no real detail on the bones.¬† Worse still, there doesn’t seem to be any serious attempt to work towards them, just a drive to eventually build SLS… well… because and nothing else.¬† There really doesn’t seem to be a operational program, only a development program.

          • Stone says:
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            So true Ben.  No program for use of SLS.  Just build it, and maybe someday we might use it for something!

  8. bobhudson54 says:
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    Hard to believe that actual development hasn’t even taken place as yet, nothing firm,material as proof that its actually happening. They have or had the hardware from the Shuttle, all they had to do was to augment it to design specifications but nothing as such has occurred as yet. And this is from an organization that developed the Saturn V in as little as 7 years. It appears now that NASA just wants to spend but produce nothing.
    Looks as if Falcon Heavy will beat it to the launch pad and be up and running by as little as two years if not sooner.SLS = moneypit. 

    • Steve Whitfield says:
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      ‚Äúall they had to do was to augment it to design specifications ‚ÄĚ

      Bob,

      I wish ‚Äúrocket science‚ÄĚ was as simple as your statement implies.¬† We could have conquered the entire solar system by now.

      Steve

      • bobhudson54 says:
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        Its true and it is simple, anyone with any knowledge of Space Exploration and figure it out and come to the same conclusions but leave it up to government intervention to complicate what’s been done before.We could’ve been beyond Earth orbit by now if only the plan was initiated correctly. We have a government that deals in studies,which have already been done,cost over-runs,which can be dealt with by freezing the cost as presented/proposed,production delays,solved by established deadlines. Its that simple.

    • pathfinder_01 says:
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      “Hard to believe
      that actual development hasn’t even taken place as yet, nothing firm,material
      as proof that its actually happening. They have or had the hardware from the
      Shuttle, all they had to do was to augment it to design specifications but
      nothing as such has occurred as yet.‚ÄĚ

      Ah no they don’t.
      It is rather like having an old computer and using it to upgrade into a new
      machine. If said computer is more than about 3-5 years old, you may need to
      replace just about everything.

      In the case of
      the shuttle, you need:

      New structures for
      the rocket(can’t just slap engines on the bottom of the fuel tank and  stage on the top, the fuel tank was not
      designed to have engines on the bottom or weight on the top.)

      New avionics,
      the Orbiter contained most of the electronics needed for flight

      New software:
      Again the new rocket is not the shuttle

       New engines (Shuttle engines are reusable and
      expensive probably want something cheaper…plus how long does it take to build
      them? (Does it limit things?).

      In the case of
      the Saturn V, they had Saturn V parts in development, a hard deadline and
      enough money to drown any problem. They were not trying to modify a system
      built for one thing(reusable space plane) to another (Disposable heavy lift
      vehicle), on a budget that does not allow development of meaningful payloads
      for said rocket and this project can slip with a lot less consequence. Not to mention no recent experince developing launch systems to boot(The Saturn V team had developed other rockets beforhand).

       

      In the case of
      the Saturn V, they had Saturn V parts in development, a hard deadline and
      enough money to drown any problem. They were not trying to modify a system
      built for one thing(reusable space plane) to another (Disposable heavy lift
      vehicle), on a budget that does not allow development of meaningful payloads
      for said rocket and this project can slip with a lot less consequence. Not to mention no recent experince developing launch systems to boot(The Saturn V team had developed other rockets beforhand).

       

    • Paul451 says:
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      “And this is from an organization that developed the Saturn V in as little as 7 years.”

      That’s because it isn’t. I’m puzzled why people think achievement somehow sticks to organisations forever, waiting to be unleashed again.

      Like Congressmen talking about “Preserving a workforce with 30 years shuttle experience”, what does that mean? How do you “preserve” experience that wasn’t used for 30 years? How does running the shuttle for 30 years retain experience in designing new man-rated launch vehicles?

      • bobhudson54 says:
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        People expect a timetable linked to achievement because that’s the way it is and YES!,NASA did develop the Saturn within 7 years,check the history and you’ll see but then again its not the same organization it was in the 60’s that we’re use to,that’s no excuse for not producing within a certain timetable. Without one, cost over-runs,production delays,poor workmanship and, possibly, accidents result.

  9. John Gardi says:
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    Folks:

    Actually, the only real complaint I have about the SLS design is that it is too small!

    The only thing worth launch on a heavy lift rocket is an integrated payload. Apollo is an example… although not a good one. Any bulk commodity or spacecraft component can more easily and cheaply be launched on medium lift rockets. If (when) Spacex lassos their reusable launcher the cost difference will be magnitudes apart.

    One of the reasons that SLS doesn’t have a payload/destination is that it’s so hard to develop an integrated payload for the 100 to 150 tonne range. Unless there is a whole program based on SLS, it is too small for anything useful and sustainable but also too large for individual spacecraft components.

    The solution? Build bigger! Waayyyy bigger!

    A payload of, say, 500 tonnes gives a lot more flexibility for mission planning. Both large size and/or high weight payloads can be designed. Large integrated payloads could be outfitted on the ground. Whole space stations or lunar bases could be lofted in one pop. Large components for a rotating space stations could be integrated on the ground so that assembly could be minimized on orbit.

    Over a decade ago I ‘designed’ such a launcher. The first design criteria was that nothing would be thrown away. To achieve this, I had to come up with an entirely new launch philosophy:

    – Put the fuel and the oxidizer into completely separated tanks. One goes into a huge common core tank and the other goes into six ‘outriggers’ mounted around the core. Whichever, fuel or oxidizer, has the higher volume goes into the common core tank; hydrogen if the fuel is hydrogen, liquid oxygen if the fuel is kerosine.

    All the engines are mounted to the outriggers which would look like strap-on boosters of a conventional rocket. The hope is that each outrigger is small enough to recover.

    – All the outriggers would be cross-fed fuel or oxidizer from the common core tank and also cross-feed it’s own contents to neighboring outriggers. The six outriggers can provide a nice three stage insertion into orbit this way.

    – The common core tank rides to orbit with the last two outriggers.

    – Did I mention payloads? This launcher was designed to be very flexible. Many payload options are available. Since the common core tank goes to orbit, we can put a payload canister at the bottom, under the common core tank with the outriggers around it. The two advantages here are that the payload canister is a nice cylinder with no tapering nose cone to design around and, since the common core tank doesn’t have to support several hundred tonnes of payload, it can be lighter and the payload heavier. The payload canister can be tall and light or short and dense depending on need. An example would be a payload canister filled to the brim with all the hardware needed to outfit the common core tank into a space station (or part of one). Payloads could also be strapped to the sides of the common core tank (on a thrust frame) above the outriggers. My example for that kind of payload would be eighteen capsules carrying a hundred folks apiece, each capable of launch escape. That’s 1,800 passengers on one flight! Now we’re talkin’!

    I know, I know. I’ve pushed this idea before but I’ll keep trying til someone ‘gets it’ of someone of authority (noofcq?) shoots me down in flames.

    Bottom line, my opinion, SLS is too small to be useful.

    tinker

    • Christopher Miles says:
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      You know, I was going to suggest that if Noofcq thought this would work (I’m an engineer and policy geek not a rocket guy) you should get this onto Kickstarter, and I’d¬†throw¬†in 50 or 100 smackers to see some detailed engineering specs up there- just so they could see the light of day.

      Then I read that Planetary resources is using Kickstarter rather go the route of Strato launch and self finance for a while.

      I just can’t get my head around that Diamandis.

      Kickstarer just lost a little appeal to me.

      So- to borrow a catch phrase from Gilda Radner… Ohh, Nevermind.

      • John Gardi says:
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        Christopher:

        I was considering making my space station idea ‘Open Source’ (it would be built using the launcher described above).

        tinker

    • DTARS says:
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      Why is just Spacex trying to make space flight cheaper?? Here we have all this talent being paid great money. MY frikin money and they are NOT even working on the most important problem! Only Elon gives a rats about Space flight.
      Tinker have you mailed your lifter ideas to Elon. He may use it sometime.

      Mr. C Talked about using rocks to protect Aldrins Mars cycler in another thread. Once on it’s orbital path to mars would it require much fuel for course corrections? Or is it a natural orbit where mass is not all that big a factor??
      Can we build an Aldrin recycler out of concrete and masonry products?? Mr. C Talked about the Orion guys doing Space ship work which they are best at. He said that it wasn’t until 2007 that someone came up with the idea of using space rocks as shields. Why hasn’t this idea been thought of sooner???

      Well shouldn’t the Orion team be ¬†building Aldrins recycler???
      I agree with you about SLS being to small. If you are going to have very low launch rate you may as well use that time to put a finished product in space

      How do your think Musk will fly to Mars?? You think he has Aldrin recycler plans up his sleeve????

      Wouldn’t your lifter be key to building Mars recycler of enough size????

      • Steve Whitfield says:
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        George,

        I‚Äôm not sure what Mr. C. said in the other thread, but the idea of using “rocks” goes way back. Using a hollowed-out asteroid as a space ship goes back more than a century in science fiction. The whole point was to use resources, of any kind, that were already in space and already capable of performing a required function. Rocks, in any form, especially ground up, make pretty good shielding for most types of space radiation, so why not use “rock” that is already up there instead of lifting something from a planet?

        Of course, it requires some on-orbit “shaping” to make it into a ship/shield/whatever. A similar concept has been proposed for stations/habs; either build them inside asteroids or (my favorite) build your structures with a double hull and fill the space between the hulls with crushed or powdered rock, or rock foam, as your shielding (rock foam can be “pumped,” much like concrete, until it dries, even in space). It‚Äôs a great idea, but like so many other good ideas, until we learn to do (and practice) real space construction, they‚Äôre just ideas.

        For my money, building and testing space rock “shields” and thin film mirrors (another great old idea) in orbit should have been very high on the list of ISS “experiments” right from the start. With these two items in our tools box so much else becomes possible, that without them is just theory.

        Here‚Äôs another “what-if” for you ‚ÄĒ a Bigelow inflatable hab with a second inflatable “overcoat” that wraps around it. Once the overcoat is in place and inflated, start pumping out the air (and saving it of course) while you pump in rock dust to replace the air. Once the overcoat is full of rock dust, you not only have shielding, but also a somewhat flexible collision bumper (which, if punctured, would “leak” only very slowly and could be easily repaired from the outside).

        Now, let‚Äôs take it one step further. Instead of Bigelow overcoats, send up large, inflatable, mattress-shaped rectangles with special fasteners/sealers on the four edges. Inflate them; replace the air with rock dust or foam, and you‚Äôve got “instant walls” of whatever size you sent up. Then you fasten and seal these “walls” into “rooms” of various sizes, and join the “rooms” into “buildings” that you can grow to any size you like (Condos in Space!). For safety, you build your “buildings” outward concentricity from the center, so that the closer you are to the central point of the building the safer you are from both radiation and decompression (and your rent goes up). In our wild west of space, pioneers don‚Äôt need a Conestoga Wagon, just some deflated walls, a rock dust supply contract, and permission to lock on to the community.

        I’d better stop here or I’ll have the men in white coats at my door. Just some possibilities to consider which (I hope) make the point that things don’t have to be big to be good.

        Steve

        • Paul451 says:
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          “Using a hollowed-out asteroid as a space ship goes back more than a century in science fiction.”

          In this case, it’s the specific combination of moving an asteroid into a Mars Cycler pseudo-orbit.

          ( http://jolitz.telemuse.net/… – pdf)

          The advantage is that once you’ve built your space-station inside the rock; protected from radiation & meteors, thermally stabilised; only the crew launch vehicle (and cargo, obviously) needs to boost from Earth orbit, and only the Mars lander needs to brake into Mars orbit.

          The pdf talks about using a 1km asteroid, but that’s for colonisation. I’m not sure how far down you can scale it. Most sources use 3-4m [as the minimum required shielding], but let’s say 10m. So if the modules are also 10m wide (inflatables), you’d need a 30m wide asteroid, 50-100m long? I don’t know if you could core a 30m wide asteroid without destroying it. At some point, you might as well just use it for your inflatable sandbags idea.)

    • Steve Whitfield says:
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      Tinker,

      I’ll buy into the concept, but not the timing. We are not yet either 1) knowledgeable enough to solve some of the technical problems involved, nor 2) committed enough to launch a payload/mission of the nature you envision. Big missions, especially settlement-related missions are, for better or for worse, still quite a ways in the future, I believe. We are still too meek and so shall continue to inherit only the Earth.

      The technical problems I‚Äôve alluded to are things like synchronizing/reducing/eliminating the pogo and vibration from the common core and that many outriggers, which is complicated by the outriggers not all separating at once (our experience to date is with large add-on boosters which all separate at the same time and still within atmosphere). I believe all of the problems associated with what I call mega-launchers can, with time, be solved, but we haven‚Äôt yet begun to do the work necessary to solve them (to the best of my knowledge). And it will be complicated, since we can‚Äôt do the normal ground testing, and we can‚Äôt do full-up testing at the outset. There will have to be a lot of brand new simulation and modeling done first. There‚Äôs no point in launching something “big” if it starts falling apart 30 feet above the pad. Shake and bake will get us nothing but criticism in today‚Äôs instant media world.

      With the mega-launcher I think we’re going to have to be very patient, but we should certainly hope to see some of the thinking and working towards it happening by now. So many aerospace programs have trouble because they wait until contract award to start working out the details. If we want more/better successes, then every program should be preceded by a program definition project which works out the requirement details, design concepts, budget and schedule, milestones, etc., and its contract should include penalty clauses for any project-derived content that turns out to be inaccurate past a certain predefined boundary when the program is executed. But I doubt people would be smart enough to buy into this concept, and even it they did, when it all went south they’d just throw it at the lawyers to fight out and the program people would then pretend like it never happened. Therefore, I guess we can pretty much ignore this entire paragraph. Oh well.

      Steve

      • Ralphy999 says:
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        First of all, I would like to make the VASIMR a national goal instead of just a few million dollars a year development money. Then, I would like to put a VASIMR engine on the ISS. It would use solar panels that are already on the ISS so the engine would have limited power but it could be used to give the ISS an occasional orbit boost to keep it from deorbiting. In this manner we would see how the engine held up long term. Then I would like to see plans for a small nuke reactor for the SLS upper stage that would provide some real¬†power for a VASIMR to Mars. In this manner we could get the trip for humans down to a 30 to 45 day trip instead of months. In the mean time I would like to make it a national policy of landing multi ton payload oxygen factories on Mars. It would crack oxygen out of the Martian atmosphere, slowly but surely. We should make it our national goal to land these factories somehow, some way, within a 1000 feet(or closer!)¬†of each other. Hire Elon Musk to do it if you want but make it national goal. This may take a while to do and it will probably take practice but I think it is doable, eventually. We just can’t get all up tight about it when they go astray or shut down after a few years of operating. Then we can¬†think about sending humans with a lander and some sort of rover on a quick trip to Mars with a VASIMR powered upper stage¬†. We can do if we can muster the national will. But that is a big *if*…..

        • mattblak says:
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          ¬†Getting to Mars in 40 days or so with VASIMIR would require a reactor much larger and heavier than a single SLS Block 2 could launch. You might need an array of reactors for an engine or engines powerful enough to do all that: reactors in the multi-megawatt range, not mere kilowatts. The effectiveness of VASIMIR for big Mars missions is merely in the Powerpoint stage at the moment, sorry. And we must not ignore the Anti-Nuke sentiments around – there are plenty of people who would stop at nothing to prevent large reactors being launched on rockets. “Heavens to Betsy; rockets explode sometimes, you know! I don’t want Chernobyl raining down on my house, thank you!”

          • Ralphy999 says:
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            This is what the US built for McMurdo Sound in the Anarctic from wiki:
            On March 3, 1962, operators activated a nuclear power plant at the station. The plant, like nearby Scott’s Discovery Hut, was prefabricated in modules. Engineers designed the components to weigh no more than 30,000 pounds (13,608 kg) each and to measure no more than 8 ft 8 inches by 8 ft 8 inches by thirty feet. A single core no larger than an oil drum served as the heart of the nuclear reactor. These size and weight restrictions were intended to allow the reactor to be delivered in an LC-130 Hercules aircraft. However, the components were actually delivered by vessel.[3] The reactor generated 1.8 MW of electrical power[4] and reportedly replaced the need for 1,500 US gallons (5,700 L) of oil daily.[5] Engineers applied the reactor’s power, for instance, in producing steam for the salt water distillation plant. The U.S. Army Nuclear Power Program decommissioned the plant in 1972

      • John Gardi says:
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        Steve:

        I should make clear that in my launcher concept, the core has no engines at all. All the engines are in the outriggers. The core is simply a huge tank with a payload canister underneath it and the six outriggers around the outside, like a Delta 2 with six GEMS.

        Save the vibration tests and separation events to future engineers for now. I’m talking philosophy here.

        The whole idea was based the problem of how to launch a rotating space station in as few launches as possible. That simply demanded using part of the launcher’s structure within the design. So, the obvious choice is the using the tankage as part of the station. I wanted the biggest tank possible, so I chose liquid hydrogen as a fuel. Since I need six ‘Shuttles’ worth of fuel, the liquid hydrogen tank would have to have six times the volume of the Shuttle’s 100 foot tall by 27 foot diameter tank. My tank ended up being 325 feet tall by 40 feet in diameter. The outriggers would each have the volume of a Shuttle’s liquid oxygen tank. 50 feet tall, 27 feet in diameter. The payload canisters would be 75 to 150 feet tall, 40 feet in diameter so the ‘stack’ could be as tall as 470 feet. Sound like I’m trying to put a skyscraper into orbit here? Exactly!

        Since my space station’s central core and ring would be 40 feet in diameter and the liquid hydrogen tank ‘spokes’ are 325 feet long, the stations outside diameter would be 770 feet. That’s large enough to spin it up to Martian gravity on the ring without getting ill.

        Turns out that my minimum number of launches for construction of my station would be… four. One for the central core, three for the ring. It may sound like a big structure for a total weight of four million pounds, a million pounds per launch, but it’s only the structure that’s been launched, not the outfitting, fixtures, furniture, logistics and consumables. My whole approach was that of a building contractor. Others will rent, lease or buy the space I leave behind. DTARS will understand this, being a building contractor himself.

        tinker

    • Synthguy says:
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      Reminds me of the old NASA Nova concepts for a follow on capability to Saturn V. If you go to Encyclopedia Astronautica¬†http://www.astronautix.com/… there is a fair bit on it there. Such a vehicle should not be man-rated, but for sending bulk cargo into orbit or BEO – large components for large spacecraft and space stations at the Lagrange points for example. I think though its more likely that an innovative thinker in the commercial space sector might look at this down the track.¬†

      Malcolm

      • John Gardi says:
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         Synthguy:

        Yes, I’ve seen that. Lets not forget Sea Dragon either:

        http://www.astronautix.com/

        But, like Elon Musk, I designed my launcher for any type of mission, cargo, passenger and/or structural. To launch big payloads will require many hands on site, first for construction/assembly, then for utilization. My idea of launching 1,800 folks at a go is not so far fetched considering.

        Everyone thinks that heavy lift launchers must be expendable. Not true. Shuttle could have hauled it’s external tank to orbit on almost every mission, even though it’s thirty tonnes was never considered part of the Shuttle’s payload capacity.

        tinker

  10. DTARS says:
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    Tinkers mega launcher should be built on a smaller scale first.

    • John Gardi says:
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       DTARS:

      My launcher idea is scalable, it’s just way more efficient (and still potentially reusable (the core tank being used on orbit)) if it’s larger. 500 tonnes was a nice round figure and I was using very conservative numbers at the time is all. I kept it well within the realm of the possible.

      tinker

      • DTARS says:
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        Well I think you should update your design to use Merlin 2 on methane. Don’t you agree??

        And I have tried to think about design ideas were maybe you build just three of your full size tugs  to get started.

        Isn’t your tug diameter about the same as a future falconXX??

        How many merlin 2s on that??

        So whatever core size they are manufacturing and engine cluster. That’s your tug size.

        So Spacex could be flying a gaint falconxx three core heavy which is your three tugs.

        So in the future they do big thrust frame and launch your super tanker.

        In the mean time Spacex should build a smaller scale falcon heavy core size of your thrust frame and out riggers to work out all the shake and bake bugs.

        Sure is sad that all this SLS waited money isn’t going to a future reusable design. It is so so sad that our best and brightest don’t seem to be able to show any imagination.¬†

        The system has failed them.

        In my opinion lol

        • John Gardi says:
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          DTARS:

          Liquid methane and liquid oxygen have about the same volume per mass and similar handling characteristics. My launcher idea would be compatible with liquid methane, the core tank would be half the height as one filled with liquid hydrogen is all.

          Actually, my tug size was based on my original design where the tugs liquid oxygen tank was a re-purposed LOX tank from the Shuttle program. Put a thrust frame and the engine cluster underneath, pipes to feed LH2 from the core tank and LOX from it’s neighboring tug (only stage 1 does this) and you’re ready to go. My recovery system was based on Rotary Rockets ‘helecopter’ recovery system that uses tip thrusters on the ends of the rotor blades to eliminate torque rotation (no need for a tail rotor or counter-rotating blades).

          But nowadays, I’m not so sure that will be necessary. Maybe Elon’s ‘thrust back to port’ method would work better. Some quick figuring shows that a tug based on the Falcon 9 first stage, carrying only kerosine though, would be about the same size, a little shorter actually. So, if they could recover those first stages, then that recovery system would be perfect for my megalauncher.

          It could be that three different recovery methods might be necessary for the stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3/orbital tugs of my launcher. Whatever works, as long as they have the volume of fuel or oxidizer for that stage. In that case, then you are perfectly right in saying the diameter of the tugs would largely depend on the size of the engine cluster.

          tinker

          • DTARS says:
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            Steve Paul tinker Mr. C

            In this SLS thread I just keep wondering How Elon plans to go to go to mars. 

            Steve
            To me whatever it is that Musk. Decides to do will become our space mission plans, goals, policy, direction so I can’t wait to hear what They are thinking.

            Its just a case of follow Elon because no one as the ability to make a mission plan and decision.

            The recycler seems likely to me in second generation form.

            Tinker
            Realizing that your lifter/Station idea could be how SpaceX could build an Aldrin Mars recycler makes your idea seem like something that could be done soon. A reason to build HLV ūüôā

            In my mind rethinking the recycler idea and realizing that your transfer vehicle can be a modular vehicle built out of most anything is kinda liberating. Don’t worry about speed. Worry about gravity radiation protection and room.

            Shouldn’t something be put on that orbit soon just as a test.

            Couldn’t a falcon heavy boost a Bigelow habitat on that orbit with test shielding experiments.

            Seems to me that the recycler is ideal for a modular design that we can keep adding to.

            Concrete spaceships lol 

            Still dreaming lol

            PS Steve 

            Millennium Falcon idea lol

            Make a giant dragon that you launch with Tinkers oxygen tugs
            Heat shield and all lol
            Part of the interior space is fuel plus other so it’s volume is bigger than your hydro tank.¬†

            Like launching the round part of starship enterprise lol

            Only like the dragon you can land on mars lol

            One stop mars base with hopping or re-orbit ability.

            You fly two for gravity.

            I had to use something real because I lack imagination lol

            George

          • John Gardi says:
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            DTARS:

            My space station idea would make a great Earth/Mars cycler. Over 750 feet in diameter, large enough to spin up to Martian gravity. Perfect, train whilst you transit in the gravity of your destination. Large population (there’s safety in numbers). The ‘ring’ is almost 2,400 feet around (about a half mile) on three decks and since three of the core tanks are the spokes of the station, lots of storage and room for experiments at different gravity gradiants.

            It also has one of the key elements of an Aldrin Cycler… it is too big to stop (or even slow down much ;)). This means that one needs a robust infrastructure of orbiting stations and the orbital spacecraft around both Earth and Mars that would be used to transfer kin and cargo to and from the cycler as it goes by. Once in place, though, the cycler can travel from Earth to Mars on very little delta v.

            tinker

          • DTARS says:
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            With methane cant you make your tank just as big only partition it off, or do you lack lift???

            Check out my dragon tank lolol.

            Dragons Skin is your thrust frame lol

            My answer to Steves idea I always want a do everything spaceship lolol

          • DTARS says:
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            Tinker

            Think through this idea a minute. You said that you are interested in launching a skyscraper. Well what if you could LAND one on another planet. 

            Now that Spacex has developed reusable oxygen/kero/ or methane  tugs.

            Why couldn’t we do this??

            Use the tugs to build your wheel recycler and set it on it’s way.¬†

            Then you build a giant dragon capsule. You build it as large you can lift with your 6 tugs. Same shape has dragon. You build it at the launch site same as you built the station. 
            Very similar to a shipyards that builds steel ships.

            Your giant Dragon 

            DRAGON BASE

            This thing could be a complete exploration/settlement Base 

            The nose cones tip seats your crew during earth launch and mars landing and has launch LAS draco like escape. 
              
            A whole new meaning to Mars-One

            Dragon base could meet with Mars recycler docking at the hub of recycler for trip to mars.

            Then land whereever you may want to start a new town.

            Lol some one said we are not going to settle mars in capsules, lol so I thought why not with Tinkers/Spacex’s 6 recoverable TUGS we could launch a capsule big enough if we wanted too.

            The advantage of Smart cheap future heavy lift.

            Cancel SLS

            Cancel Orion

      • DTARS says:
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        My point main point is if your want your futuristic idea to really fly one day you better sell it to Elon.

        He is not just interested in his Friday check.

  11. meekGee says:
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    This rocket is a bad idea even if it HAD a mission.
    SLS to the moon?
    SLS to a NEO?
    SLS to Mars?
    It’s uber-expensive for all of them. ¬†Commercial launch is proving itself, it’s time to let government rockets retire. ¬†Wasn’t Ares I enough?

    • Paul451 says:
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      I get giddy at the thought of COTS/CCDev type programs funded with SLS’s nearly $3b budget. Habitats, orbital refuelling, lunar landers (lunar landing), eventually building up to Nautilus-X type projects (“projects”, plural, competing.)

      Small fixed-cost projects from multiple competing vendors, components in a larger potential mission to… anywhere you like.

      “Do more of the thing that works, and stop doing the thing that keeps failing.” How hard is that? How radical?

      But like Marcel wanting ISS killed and its budget moved to, say, commercial space stations or moon bases, this is just a fantasy. A lost hope.

  12. Monroe2020 says:
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    Nothing but SLS love here.  And Orion.  The first space bound Orion will arrive at the KSC Monday June 25, 2012.

  13. Steve Whitfield says:
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    I still firmly believe that SLS is a major mistake. And, I still firmly believe that SLS will be canceled long before it nears completion. Despite all of the jobs that it provides, I think there are only two things required for it to be canned: 1) it has to be out of the public eye for a period of time; and 2) the Congressional aides have to figure out for their bosses why it was NASA’s fault that SLS could not be done.

    Orion, in my opinion, is a more difficult call. There will always be more mission types than there are spacecraft types, and there will always be more spacecraft types than there are launch vehicles types. Until you’ve committed to the details of a particular mission, you don’t know your spacecraft requirements, but those requirements are always going to be very mission specific. So, with no NASA HSF missions (other than to/from ISS) being planned, there is no requirement for a particular spacecraft. The question we can’t answer is: will NASA (on it’s own or by direction) design a mission that specifically suits Orion, instead of selecting a mission for sensible reasons and then considering what spacecraft they need to do it? The former approach breaks all the rules, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is what happens.

    Steve

     

    • DTARS says:
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      We will have to just wait for Elon to finalize his Mars mission plan and release it. Then we will get to talk about the response to it while Musk starts to execute his plan. And hopefully our great space program will figure out how to help.

    • Littrow says:
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      I am not sure SLS is a mistake. I think that we need a big booster but it should be the most cost effective booster we can produce and it should be designed and built in such a way that the major components, whether engines or stages, are turned out like sausages. Lots of them, on a production line. America learned that in locomotives, the auto industry, and airplanes, there is a reason why its done that way. Time, motion, expense, cost, manpower, efficiency. SLS made much more sense when there was a Shuttle to adapt. Once Shuttle was gone, beginning several years ago, maintaining a Shuttle-based design became a lot less important.

      I am pretty firmly convinced that Orion is not needed at all. If we wanted that kind of a design, Dragon can perform the same mission and can be ready much earlier at much less expense. But for lunar or planetary missions, if you are doing them like Apollo and throwing all the hardware away every mission, which is what Orion is, you’ve made an expensive mistake.¬† If you are taking crews and sending them on multi-month missions to asteroids or planets in weightlessness, that is another mistake. And if you are taking a crew that has been in weightlessness for many months and dropping them into the ocean, that is another mistake.¬†

      • no one of consequence says:
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         Absolutely.

      • Paul451 says:
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        “If we wanted that kind of a design, Dragon can perform the same mission”

        And if Dragon falters, there are three other companies itching to take the lead. (Four if ATK is serious, and not just spoiling.) Oh the riches of competitive multi-vendor fixed-cost contracts…

        Sorry, no, wait, I mean there’ll be 1.5 other companies on traditional expensive FAR contracts if Dragon fails. <sigh>

  14. Anonymous says:
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    The architecture of SLS will force constraints on any future missions, and this is back asswards. ¬†It should be the mission that defines the architecture of the systems used. ¬†If we go forward with SLS, it’ll be a big mistake with respect to future missions.

  15. TMA2050 says:
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    So, what do the NASA astronauts have to look forward to for the next 10-20 years? I guess they’re better off with the astronaut job then whatever job they had before. Heck, they probably get a little extra “space” pay whether they go into space or not.¬†

  16. DTARS says:
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    Wrote this to Mr. Williams in moon thread when he acted like he had no idea why people are hostile to the SLS.

    Hostility is PRICE!!!!!!!
    Plus lack of performance!!!!!!

    Simple

    Billions for NOTHING!!!!!!

    Anyone interested in talking about real space flight???

    Real plans!!!

    It’s Friday boys and girls pick up your checks!!

    • no one of consequence says:
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      They still don’t get it. When all we got for billions, was a fake rocket¬† composed¬† of a spare Shuttle SRB that was genned up to Time Magazine’s “Invention of the Year” – that’s when they screwed themselves.

      That you could be so cynical about your profession. Losers all.

  17. DTARS says:
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    Airo-drag orbital changes

    Is there a way to use the atmosphere to save fuel changing from one orbit to the other.

    Couldnt a satellite use wings and a tail to change it’s orbit.

    What if you had a satellite that could inflate into an airplane or some shape and then dip down into the upper atmosphere just enough to use the thin air particles to rudder itself to change it’s direction then boost itself back up to altitude.

  18. Ralphy999 says:
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    You guys have just gotta see this video on MSNBC :7 minutes of terror for the MSL landiing, AWESOME! I can’t believe NASA made this video:
    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn….

    It explains in detail on what needs to happen to put a one ton payload on Mars.

  19. Nassau Goi says:
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    This is just plain pathetic. Do MSFC employees have any integrity? 
    I know several at MSFC who know this is a bad idea. Why don’t MSFC employees, especially civil servants arrange for a strike?¬† I don’t know how anyone with a career invested in this fiasco can sit idle.
    The theme Rocket Scientists build rockets, NOT politicians is received pretty well.

    This is a recipe for disaster otherwise. SLS must be stopped.

    • NonPublius says:
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      Are you really serious?  Do you have any idea how disconnected from reality your suggestions are?  You expect pee-on civil servants and contractors to effectively resign their jobs, put their families at risk, and commit career suicide because some politicians and flim flam men sold one approach over your pet solution???

  20. DTARS says:
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    Inner Solar System RailRoad constructs space station  payloads to be launched by Spacex 

    We are reporting for the Brownville News in Texas. We are visiting Spacex commercial launch site where they are building the Buzz Aldrin Mars Recycler. As we enter the spaceport to meet with the recycler space stations construction superintendent. We see six tall looking towers. Each in different stages of construction. The site super explains that this is the low tech part of building the giant space station. Each of the six towers are parts of the station that will be assembled at L1 near the moon. He explains that he manages the construction crews that are assembling these similar tower/tanks much the same way he would if he were building apartment buildings side by side.

    We noticed that there are railroad tracks all over the construction site??? He explains that the tracks will be used to transport the the 6 recoverable tugs to each tank tower site for integration and launch. He says that the same 6 tugs will be used to launch All these giant tanks to L1 near the moon where they will be put together like tinker toys.

    He took us to the first site which it the one closest to completion to give us an idea of what the station will be like in space. 

    The tank towers are rectangular not cylinders like most rockets.

    He says that this is because that it is a much more useful shape for people in space.

    He points out that on one side of the tank is a glass like transparent wall. (tank wall is cutout is removed behind glass once the section is in space) To our surprise he says this side will face away from the sun when wheel is assembled in space. He points to truss like structure next which he calls the thrust frame. He shows us the mirror surface on the 1/4 of frame and tells us that once in space this will act as giant mirror that will reflect sun light to the rear transparent wall of the wheel. Other  3 sections of the thrust frame have Solar cells on them to generate electricity. So most all of the of the thrust frame is used for light and energy once the thrust frame unfolds in space. 

    The wall that will face the sun will have space masonry added to it, in space to protect the colonist on their trips. The mirrors angle can be changed should there be a dangerous Solar event.

    We see that this in a big project ¬†but he says since most of the construction is done here on the ground it’s really not much harder than building sky scrappers in a small city. Which makes the cost quite reasonable.

    SLS Crowd shouldn’t you be building HLV like this????

    Why the hell in 2012 are we still trying to build 1960s type rockets.