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William Broad stenographs NASA in this New York Times article, in which a false dichotomy is set up.
For its next generation of space vehicles, NASA has decided to abandon the design principles that went into the aging space shuttle, agency officials and private experts say.
Note the implication here--there are only two ways to build rockets into space. One can use the design principles that went into the Shuttle, or one can go back to the design principles that we used in the past--you know, "traditional" rockets.
[Cue Tevye: "Tradition.........Tradition!]
There's little discussion of what the "design principles" of the Shuttle are that make it so bad, other than it's allowed to have stuff fall on it during launch. And the "separating crew from cargo" myth prevails:
The plan would separate the jobs of hauling people and cargo into orbit and would put the payloads on top of the rockets - as far as possible from the dangers of firing engines and falling debris, which were responsible for the accidents that destroyed the shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003.
No explanation of why separating people and cargo makes people safer (because it doesn't) or why we should care about losing people, but not payloads or launches that cost tens, or hundreds of millions of dollars.
And of course, there's the standard confusion about launch system economics:
By making the rockets from shuttle parts, the new plan would draw on the shuttle's existing network of thousands of contractors and technologies, in theory speeding its completion and lowering its price.
"Cost" and "price" seem to be used interchangeably here (as is often the case with government programs, since price is usually just cost plus a fixed percentage). And there's no distinction between, or discussion of, development costs versus operational costs. Yes, if you're going to develop a new heavy-lift launch vehicle, or even a new vehicle for the CEV, then using existing components will reduce development costs. But if those components are very costly to procure and operate, the operational costs will remain disastrously, and unsustainably high. When they say "lower price" and "cost advantages" they're referring to development cost only. They've simply thrown in the towel, and given up on getting safe launch.
And of course, no major media piece would be complete without the obligatory quotes from John Pike and Alex Roland, who seem to have an honored place in every reporter's rolodex, though neither of them really have any expertise in these matters.
John E. Pike, the director of GlobalSecurity.org, a private Washington research group on military and space topics, said he wondered how NASA could remain within its budget while continuing to pay billions of dollars for the shuttle and building a new generation of rockets and capsules.
They always justify Roland's inclusion in these things by saying he is a "former historian" for NASA. They never mention, though, that this was only for a brief period, over two decades ago, and he dealt with aeronautics, not space. But he's a good gadfly, like Pike, and Robert Park, so of course we should care what he thinks.
And I love this bit:
"The shuttle is not a lemon," Scott J. Horowitz, an aerospace engineer and former astronaut who helped develop the new plan, said in an interview. "It's just too complicated. I know from flying it four times. It's an amazing engineering feat. But there's a better way."
Well, he's a former astronaut. And an aerospace engineer. He has no axes to grind--he just wants a safer launch system, right?
That's a useful introduction, I guess, but somehow, I wonder if it's the whole story. Well, as it turns out, the real agenda starts to dribble out a little later:
"It's safe, simple and soon," said Dr. Horowitz, an industry executive since he left the astronaut corps in October. "And it should cost less money" than the shuttles. Their reusability over 100 missions was originally meant to slash expenses but the cost per flight ended up being roughly $1 billion.
Note the implication that Shuttle is expensive because it's reusable (with the further implication that we shouldn't build any more reusable vehicles).
Anyway, it's "safe, simple and soon." Who could ask for more?
But wait a minute. Haven't we heard that phrase before?
Well, it does say he's an industry executive. But what industry? What company?
Oh, here it is, tucked away toward the end of the article:
After leaving the astronaut corps, he went to work for the booster maker, ATK Thiokol, where he now leads the company's effort to develop the new family of rockets.
Nope, no axes to grind there. Well, at least they did mention it, finally.
My problem with articles like this is that, as I noted above, they set up a false dichotomy. We have other choices than doing it on expendable launch vehicles with capsules, and doing it with an oversized airplane stuck to the side of expendable parts that are a major contributor to the costs, and shed parts onto the reusable portion. Shuttle didn't have to be the way it is, and it's not the platonic ideal of a reusable (or even partially reusable) launch system, that allows us to extrapolate its flaws to any conceivable space transport. It was a program that was compromised early in its development by the same need to save development costs that seem to be turning the latest plans into another budding disaster, at least from an operational cost standpoint.
But as long as reporters at the New York Times rely on technologically ignorant naysayers like John Pike and Alex Roland, and breathless industry boosters, we're never going to have an intelligent discussion of the real alternatives.
Not quite up there with Roland and Pike is "recovering space activist" Jeff Bell, a definite contender for the barking moonbat title.Posted by Fred Kiesche at August 2, 2005 03:03 PM
Another example where the media's concern is filling airtime with entertainment rather than providing useful information.Posted by ken anthony at August 2, 2005 03:18 PM
The quality of reporting this week on both the Discovery mission and NASA's apparently forthcoming VSE architecture has been pretty dismal. (At least, what I've read.) Resorting to people like Roland, et al, is simply an admisson that the reporter lacks the ability or the willingness to explain something, and, in any case, assumes the readers are too stupid to understand. I'm a former DoD employee. Why don't they ask me for pithy quotes about next year's budget request? Make as much sense.
False dichtomy: When I was a kid, a read a lot of car magazines that were always pairing two cars off against each other: "Ferrari versus Lamborghini? Who Will Win?" Of course, there was no contest, just a couple of test drives and a lot of statistics. But, it sold magazines. The press seems to play this game everywhere, now. So do a lot of bloggers. Nothing can be nuanced, subtle or complicated. Whatever the reality, only two opposing alternatives can exist.Posted by billg at August 2, 2005 04:00 PM
I hate to say this, but I think that Pike and Roland are at least partially right on this one. As you quoted:
"John E. Pike, the director of GlobalSecurity.org, a private Washington research group on military and space topics, said he wondered how NASA could remain within its budget while continuing to pay billions of dollars for the shuttle and building a new generation of rockets and capsules."
This is a legitimate question. Developing an expensive CEV while trying to continue to run the shuttle will be tricky. I don't know what he suggests they do, and whatever he suggests is probably quite wrong, but his assessment in this case is at least close to the truth.
"Alex Roland, a former historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration who now teaches at Duke University and is a frequent critic of the space program, said the plan had 'the aroma of a quick and dirty solution to a big problem.' "
Isn't that what this whole safe simple soon thing is? A quick and expensive solution to a big problem? Ie affordable and safe access to space.
Now, I doubt either of them would suggest NASA acting as a customer and helping foster a truly commercial space industry. But what they did say wasn't actually wrong. Even stopped clocks like Bell, Rowland, and Pike apparently can get somethings at least partially right every once in a while.Posted by Jonathan Goff at August 2, 2005 04:40 PM
A Staturn V and Saturn 1B if I ever saw one. That's what the article reads like. being 48 I was around during Apollo allong with 38 years in the National Association of Rocketry.
I agree with NASA using the SRB's and ET make good economic sence. From a facility stand point both KSD and pads 39A and 39B could handle these SDV's
Mr. Pike and his associate do not have a clue on the CEV design and made gross errors. Thoise out theree thinking a capsule is the way to go ignore the work accomplished at Edwards AFB durinig the 1960's and during the X-38.
My recent book The Next Shuttle put some 14 configurations thru a digital subsonic windtunnel. And gues what vehicle flew the best?
A lifting body with a parawing got an L/D ratio of 9 and a landing speed as low as 45 mph. Hell, that is a Piper Cub! Even Mr. Pike could land it. Add a GPS which ws done during the Space Wedge effort in 1992 and you can droop in within 3 feet of any point +/_ 800 miles of your orbital track, And you get a ship that can fly a crew again. No capsule will do that. I don't case how much BS Boeing or MSFC spill out.
Thankfully Lockheed design for the CEV will offer these key features. While Boeing is plan old ballistic. 9-12 Gee's is sure going to hurt after you sp3ent a few years in low gavity. Would not a more gentle reentry be a better course. I think so.
Alos the NYT and many others are not seeing the bigger issue here. The next Lunar LANDER. NASA wants to put a crew of 6 on the Moon for 90 days. OK. The old LEM weighted 33,700 pounds and was good for 9 man-days. Now you want 540 man days,
Fist you drop the hypergolic propellant and go to H2/)2 to raise the ISP to about 436. You use 3-4 RL-10A's for this. A very good engine with an extensive operational history. Second the LANDER has two roles one is a crew lander/ascent craft. The other is pure cargo. What are the mass numbers. I would say around 75,000 pounds for the Lander. And use lots of composites to keep the weight down.
In the end you need that 200K pounds to LEO tp get a CEV and Lander to the Moon. And 8-10 yers later you can haul the mail to Mars. Mr. Griffin is look at the design aspect and it clearly correct.
And let no one ever again do a parallel vehicle like the Shuttle / ET. In Line is a whoiole lot safer. And that J-2 is a great engine for an upper stage. MSFC ran one for over 90 minutes and showed no wear. No SSME can say that. Why beacuse the boys at MSFC wanted a Pc of 3008 psig. Crist do you know wht that doies to the turbo machinery? CElar back in 1980 Rocketdyne didn't care. And several years later on it was Pratt and Whitney who fixed the pumps in the Block II SSME. Gee some one in this country does know how to make turbo machery, P and W !! Rocketdyne may make an engine but do't hunt them down for the turbopumps. they had folks using a hand file on blades back then. And todays's blades are single cystal and a hand file would introduce potential crack locations. I doubet any of you have seen a turine come apart. My 22 years in the power industry make for some scarey moments. Any time I walk into a poer plant I check those turbines because I will know if they went off like a grenade.
So lets get to work and build the SDV's and the right CEV's. I want my kids to be proud again of the Spcae program. And I wnat to see Burt's vehicles in orbit too.
Dave Ketchledge NAR SR 57237Posted by Dave Ketchledge at August 2, 2005 07:02 PM
[ "John E. Pike, the director of GlobalSecurity.org, a private Washington research group on military and space topics, said he wondered how NASA could remain within its budget while continuing to pay billions of dollars for the shuttle and building a new generation of rockets and capsules." ]
Answer: Commit NASA to making only seven or eight more Shuttle launches to the International Space Station and one Hubble trip. That'll free up some funds. Seven or eight more launches might achieve so-called Core Complete status for the ISS.
Seven or eight more ISS trips and one bravissimo, golden glow encore performance to service the Hubble telescope, and it's museum time for the manned Shuttles. Count 'em, three more launches apiece for the three Shuttles.
NASA's luck might stay good for three more apiece. Twenty-five or thirty more Shuttle trips to build an orbital MacMansion configuration of the ISS should be O-U-T.
Another, somewhat anticlimatic end of life plan for the three remaining Shuttles is to use them for cargo launches with no humans aboard. Use 'em that way until all three are all gone. No more Shuttles would mean no more vacillating about a Shuttle replacement.
This umanned end-of-life plan isn't mutally exclusive with eight or nine more manned Shuttle round trips.
America needs to move on to other things, inlcuding renewed human voyages to the Moon.Posted by David Davenport at August 2, 2005 08:37 PM
It was a program that was compromised early in its development by the same need to save development costs that seem to be turning the latest plans into another budding disaster, at least from an operational cost standpoint.
Which doesn't mean we have to throw away every lesson learned with shuttle--and yes, there are more programmatic lessons than just that 'shuttle was done wrong and costs a lot.'
Griffen has to deal with the political reality that no one: Congress; the administration; nor a private concern, has offered to finance the up front billions required to develop a completely reusable space vehicle. NASA isn't claiming that the CEV system is going to be The Way into space like they did with shuttle--they're just saying it's the cheapest way for NASA to accomplish the VSE on the limited budget available.
Not to mention, as a former head of In-Q-Tel, Griffen believes in the private sector--and understands that there's little NASA can possibly do in the near term to jumpstart the private space sector which wouldn't fatally cripple it in the long term with federal budget overburden.Posted by cuddihy at August 2, 2005 11:56 PM
Griffen has to deal with the political reality that no one: Congress; the administration; nor a private concern, has offered to finance the up front billions required to develop a completely reusable space vehicle.
No one has asked them for it, at least not in any sensible way, nor has anyone (including me) claimed that "up front billions" are required for that, at least in this discussion.
NASA isn't claiming that the CEV system is going to be The Way into space like they did with shuttle
And that's another strawman, since I've never claimed they have. I sure wish you'd argue with what I write, instead of what you fantasize that I write.
they're just saying it's the cheapest way for NASA to accomplish the VSE on the limited budget available.
I know they're saying that. That doesn't make them correct in saying it. They're not, at least if they want to do anything more significant than rehashing Apollo.
Not to mention, as a former head of In-Q-Tel, Griffen believes in the private sector--and understands that there's little NASA can possibly do in the near term to jumpstart the private space sector which wouldn't fatally cripple it in the long term with federal budget overburden.
Well, that's interesting, because I sure don't understand that. I don't even understand what the phrase "fatally cripple it in the long term with federal budget overburden" means. Perhaps you or Mike can explain it to me.Posted by Rand Simberg at August 3, 2005 07:36 AM
"It was a program that was compromised early in its development by the same need to save development costs"
What does this mean? Is this the old argument that if only NASA had spent more money developing a fully reusable "flyback" first stage it would have saved money for operating the space shuttle?
If so, this ignores the fact that it is the orbiter that is the most expensive part of shuttle operations, and creating another large reusable vehicle with 1970s technology seems like an unlikely way to guarantee success. Furthermore, some of the failure modes for the large flyback booster were not pretty.Posted by Tim Faber at August 3, 2005 07:41 AM
[Not to mention, as a former head of In-Q-Tel, Griffen believes ... ]
Wasn't In-Q-Tel a CIA front organization?Posted by David Davenport at August 3, 2005 08:24 AM
this ignores the fact that it is the orbiter that is the most expensive part of shuttle operations
And this ignores the fact that part of the reason for that was the cost cutting, that scrimped on things that would have made it more operable, and capable of a higher flight rate (which is what's necessary to reduce costs per flight).
and creating another large reusable vehicle with 1970s technology seems like an unlikely way to guarantee success.
Again with the "large reusable vehicle." Who says it has to be "large"? That was another mistake of the Shuttle. I need to sit down and write an essay on all of the myths (like the ones put forth here) about the "mistakes of the Shuttle" and describe what the real ones were.
Furthermore, some of the failure modes for the large flyback booster were not pretty.
This is a meaningless statement unless one specifies a design for a flyback booster.Posted by Rand Simberg at August 3, 2005 08:24 AM
[ What does this mean? Is this the old argument that if only NASA had spent more money developing a fully reusable "flyback" first stage it would have saved money for operating the space shuttle?]
The meaning is that fully reuseable Shuttle system designs would have had neither segmented solid rocker boosters nor expendable external tanks with spray-on foam skins.
[... and creating another large reusable vehicle with 1970s technology seems like an unlikely way to guarantee success. ]
I take it you agree that using Thiokal SRB's as the first stage for another manned vehicle is a bad idea. By the way, I think the new CEV capsule is intended to be re-used, perhaps after refurbishing the capsule's heat shield.
No space system has potential failure modes that are all 100 percent beautiful.
You say capsules such as the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo/Soyuz are systems which have proven themselves to be safe?
I reply that capsule systems have proven to be vulnerable to burning up on the launch pad, sinking in the sea and almost drowning an astronaut, having oxygen tanks in the Service Module explode ( Apollo 13 ), and having vital systems fail during re-entry.
There have been five fatal in-flight accidents Including the death ( including the 1967 death of Mike Adams in an X-15). In each case all crew were killed.
The first was on April 24, 1967 when Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed on board Soyuz 1. His one day mission had been plagued by a series of mishaps with the new type of spacecraft, which culminated in the capsule's parachute not opening properly after re-entry. Komarov was killed when the capsule hit the ground. There are persistent rumors that American listening posts in Turkey recorded Komarov cursing the spacecraft and the support crew by radio on his way down, although in the absence of any evidence, these claims are usually dismissed as myth.
Four years later, on June 30, 1971, the crew of Soyuz 11, Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov were killed after undocking from space station Salyut 1 after a three week stay. A valve on their spacecraft had accidentally opened with the service module separated, allowing their air to leak out into space. The capsule re-entered and landed normally, and their deaths were only discovered when it was opened by the recovery team ... team. "
John Glenn also had a close call during his Mercury capsule re-entry.
The score for fatal in flight orbital manned orbital vehicles is tied at two and two:
Two fatal Soyuz capsule losses, two fatal Shuttle losses.Posted by David Davenport at August 3, 2005 09:01 AM
Rand, you've made some good arguments, but in the end, the space shuttle was never designed to provide any manned exploration of the solar system. With NASA spending a great deal of money just to keep it flying in LEO, there's a sense from common people like myself that we're kind of "trapped" in orbit with no way to escape.
Simply put, it's really difficult for me to get excited about the shuttle or any other re-usable space plane. The space program really used to inspire me to read and learn about space, space travel, and various astromical subjects. But now it just seems like we're spinning our wheels in place.
I've glanced at the ATK website, and based on what is proposed there, it would provide a method by which we can maintain cargo shipments to the LEO & GEO (and keep the ISS maintained). At the same time we could pursue more aggressive manned exploration of space, and use some of the ideas, technology, and capabilities left over from the shuttle program to accomplish that.
Notwithstanding some of the bozos quoted in the article, what exactly is wrong with those concepts? Should we direct NASA's funds into a new re-usable space plane? If we do have to make a choice between manned solar system exploration and a reusable vehicle, which would you choose?And shouldn't we consider the stimulation of people's imaginations when attempting to answer the question: "Where exactly do we go from here?"Posted by kayawanee at August 3, 2005 10:52 AM
Notwithstanding some of the bozos quoted in the article, what exactly is wrong with those concepts?
They are far too expensive, for too little value, just as Shuttle and ISS are.
Should we direct NASA's funds into a new re-usable space plane?
We should have a national space policy that encourages, rather than discourages low-cost launch systems.
If we do have to make a choice between manned solar system exploration and a reusable vehicle, which would you choose?
I can't answer hypothetical and improbably questions like that. It's an utterly false choice, but if by "manned solar system exploration" you mean sending a few astronauts off to Mars so the rest of us can watch, I am unwilling to spend billions of dollars to do that. The key to "manned solar system exploration" (which I don't care about that much, compared to human space development and settlement) is low-cost access to low earth orbit.
And shouldn't we consider the stimulation of people's imaginations when attempting to answer the question: "Where exactly do we go from here?"
Sure. But what stimulates my imagination is the notion that I can go. I'm not a voyeur, and I don't think that many of the American public are, either, at least not enough to wish to spend as much money as NASA wants to spend on it.Posted by Rand Simberg at August 3, 2005 11:23 AM
Let me try to focus this discussion by asking Rand and other participants here this question:
What should be done about the International Space Station? How many more Shuttle launches to the ISS should Dr. Griffin's NASA commit itself to explicitly and officially?
Or is NASA's unoffficial, de facto and default policy of, "No official policy on number of Shuttle trips to ISS, just keep on launching Shuttles to the Station as long as there are Shuttles left," OK with you gentlemen?
C'mon, guys. What sould be done about the ISS? Let's try to be more specific.Posted by David Davenport at August 3, 2005 12:32 PM
Rand, thanks for answering my questions. I think I understand where you're coming from on this and why we may disagree. I appreciate the quick response. You are indeed a mensch! Uh-oh, how much do I owe Glenn in royalties?! =)Posted by kayawanee at August 3, 2005 12:43 PM
David Davenport says: C'mon, guys. What sould be done about the ISS? Let's try to be more specific.
As far as that goes, judging by what I've read at its homepage, it looks like NASA has already decided to go with the "Capsule" style CEV, and unmanned cargo carriers.
As Rand points out, this will be quite expensive, particularly if the program moves towards trips to the moon, Mars, etc. Though I'm not really sure, in the event the program stays in LEO, that it will cost as much as maintaing the Shuttle fleet or replacing it with an orbital space plane.
We could have a private company contract for transporting crew and cargo for profit. I don't know if it's feasible, but I'm sure Rand would be sympathetic to private space flight development.
I'm pretty sure NASA would have a problem with that, though!!!Posted by kayawanee at August 3, 2005 12:55 PM
One advantage of NASA going with expendable launchers is the high marginal cost. I call this an advantage because it leaves NASA more favorably inclined to the use of competing systems to displace its own vehicles.
Contrast this with the shuttle, where NASA would have saved very little (back when the shuttle was operating close to the maximum flight rate it attained) by replacing a single shuttle launch with a launch on another system.Posted by Paul Dietz at August 3, 2005 02:29 PM
[ As far as that goes, judging by what I've read at its homepage, it looks like NASA has already decided to go with the "Capsule" style CEV, and unmanned cargo carriers. ]
Oh, NASA hasn't actually committed to anything yet, and I don't think the CEV set of press releases is likely to result in any actual spacecraft. CEV = SLI from a few years ago, in my opinion ... proposals that won't happen.
"Crew" meaning non-tourists? I don't see any profit in that without a big government subsidy.
(1) How many more launches do you predict that NASA will attempt, and
(2) How many more such launches should there be?Posted by David Davenport at August 3, 2005 02:35 PM
No one has asked them for it, at least not in any sensible way,
That's a strawman yourself. What's a sensible way to ask somebody to develop a reusable orbital vehicle?
nor has anyone (including me) claimed that "up front billions" are required for that, at least in this discussion.
Based on existing technology, and barring a development process somehow free of difficulties, the equivalent of 18 hole-in-ones in a row, upfront billions are required. Even Elon Musk didn't try to go straight to orbital reusable, and he actually had near a billion to burn. Of course, there is no way to actually prove this, it's just common sense and a call on my part, so feel free to assert that there is some feasible way to develop an orbital reusable vehicle for less than a billion dollars.
I don't even understand what the phrase "fatally cripple it in the long term with federal budget overburden" means.
I would think an ardent capitalist and libertarian would get this. Any government program that attempts to build a commercial system tend to come up with bloated, inefficient, unsustainable business models that require government input. True from Amtrak to regulated telephone service to state-run oil companies. And those are state-run industries where at least previously workeable commercial models pioneered the field first. If the government had built the first railroad, it never would have gotten from Liverpool to Manchester in the first place, and it still would have cost the queen billions.
Posted by tom cuddihy at August 3, 2005 03:35 PM
we're never going to have an intelligent discussion of the real alternatives.
Despite the failings of 'technically ignorant naysayers' and 'breathless industry boosters' (as long as you're labeling, why not Technically Ignorant Industry Booster?), at least they're relying on discussions of stated alternatives. They're picking a position and arguing from that position.
Your entire premise seems to be to argue from no position, or perhaps from a secret position. That there indeed exist other 'real alternatives,' but what are they? They must be either so obvious that there's no point in stating them--in which case you might want to state them for us rubes--or they're so flimsy that any exposure of these 'alternatives' to criticism would reveal how unreal they are?
Either way, you're sitting at a fork in the road yelling that both directions are wrong, but refusing to say which way you think is the right way to go.Posted by tom cuddihy at August 3, 2005 04:01 PM
> Two fatal Soyuz capsule losses, two fatal Shuttle losses.
Only because you qualify it with the words "in flight" which excludes the Apollo 1 accident.
Posted by Edward Wright at August 3, 2005 04:41 PM
And if one of those Shuttles happens to fly into downtown Orlando, the VAB, or the KSC press center?
X-34 was cancelled in part because the KSC range safety people weren't comfortable with a small cruise missile returning to land at Kennedy. How do you think they'd react to a much bigger missile?
If NASA is going to continue launching orbiters, what's the point of doing so with empty seats? If the Shuttle is so dangerous that professional test pilots won't volunteer to fly it, then it's too dangerous to fly over inhabited areas of the United States.
[ And if one of those Shuttles happens to fly into downtown Orlando, the VAB, or the KSC press center? ]
Land 'em at Edwards.
By the way, how can you be sure that a manned Orbiter will never go astray approaching the runway at Kennedy?
[ X-34 was cancelled in part because the KSC range safety people weren't comfortable with a small cruise missile returning to land at Kennedy. How do you think they'd react to a much bigger missile? }
Why the eff did they JUST HAVE TO land an X-34 at Kennedy? Typical intra NASA destructive obstructionism.
[If NASA is going to continue launching orbiters, what's the point of doing so with empty seats? ]
Safety requirements can be relaxed if no humans are aboard.
Like I said, plan on landing unmanned Shuttles at Edwards.
The cost of ferry flights back to Florida? You'd probably save a lot more than NASA spends on 747-Shuttle ferry flgihts if the costs of the Shuttle astronaut training program were eliminated.
Posted by David Davenport at August 3, 2005 05:41 PM
Either way, you're sitting at a fork in the road yelling that both directions are wrong, but refusing to say which way you think is the right way to go.
And you're assuming that it is a fork with only two directions.
Any government program that attempts to build a commercial system tend to come up with bloated, inefficient, unsustainable business models that require government input.
I've never proposed a government program to attempt to build a commercial system.
[rest of strawmen ignored for lack of time]Posted by Rand Simberg at August 3, 2005 05:42 PM
> Land 'em at Edwards.
So, instead of Orlando, you endanger Los Angeles? Why is that more acceptable?
> By the way, how can you be sure that a manned Orbiter will never go
Is that a rhetorical question? Because the Shuttle isn't just "manned," it's piloted.
> [If NASA is going to continue launching orbiters, what's
> Safety requirements can be relaxed if no humans are aboard.
Only if you don't care about 1) hundreds of millions in government assets, and 2) the lives of private citizens on the ground.
> [If the Shuttle is so dangerous that professional test pilots
> Like I said, plan on landing unmanned Shuttles at Edwards.
That doesn't answer the question. California is part of the United States, and it is inhabited.Posted by Edward Wright at August 3, 2005 06:06 PM
By way of SlashDot, a more detailed article at SpaceRef describing NASA's proposed CEV launchers. It covers a wide variety of options and gives some of the thinking behind the shuttle derived concepts.Posted by mpthompson at August 3, 2005 11:10 PM
[ That doesn't answer the question. California is part of the United States, ]
The lovely La Raza epople have another opinion about that
... and it is inhabited. ]
so to speak.
Look, to ge to Edwards, a shuttle descends to land over the Pacific Ocean and travels a relatively short distance overland without flying over Los Angeles County.
To land at Kennedy, A Shuttle descends through the lower atmosphere over the width of the continental US.
Here's a post I like regarding using solid rocket booster on a new crew vehicle:
Yep. Makes about as much sense as saying a heavily modified SRB with a clean sheet design liquid second stage is cheaper and safer than using a Delta IV Heavy for the CEV launcher.
I think the SRB for CEV choice was only taken because it supports the SDHLV obsession. On it's own merits the SRB doesn't make sense.
> so to speak.
> Look, to ge to Edwards, a shuttle descends to land over the Pacific Ocean
I'm sure that will please the inhabitants of the surrounding counties. :-)
The FAA generally doesn't allow even small UAVs to overfly inhabited areas. You're talking about a UAV the size of an airliner. Travelling at high Mach numbers.
Posted by Edward Wright at August 4, 2005 04:56 PM
[ The FAA generally doesn't allow even small UAVs to overfly inhabited areas. You're talking about a UAV the size of an airliner. Travelling at high Mach numbers. ]
Seriously, I expect someone to make a fuss in the news media about Shuttle landings at Kennedy, claiming that the descent over the continental US puts good folks on the ground in danger. More and more health and safety crises are discovered all the time, doncha know.
In this regard, you'll also note that the new crew vehicle is going to have to land within the property lines at Edwards -- no water landings, no
I expect the Lockheed proposal for a lifting body with a steerable ram air parachute -- basically the X-38 concept from the Goldin years -- will win out over Boeing's capsule concept for the new crew vehicle.
And only a somewhat autistic engineering nerd would think that the public and Congress is going to buy a new manned launch vehicle that uses Shuttle-derived solid rocket boosters. It won't happen. If Dr Griffin seriously thinks he's going to sell people on using SRB's for the new launcher, his cognitive apparatus is seriously skwed.Posted by David Davenport at August 4, 2005 05:25 PM
Two fatal Soyuz capsule losses, two fatal Shuttle losses.
Note that the last Soyuz death happened in 1971, ie, the Soyuz has been remarkably death-free for over 30 years.Posted by Karl Hallowell at August 5, 2005 10:27 AM
Based on an extremely low flight rate. The number of Soyuz flights in the laste 30 years is than a Southwest 737 flies in a single week.
The fact that this is considered remarkable shows how low our expectations are.Posted by Edward Wright at August 5, 2005 01:45 PM
I suspect Boeing's design will also have a steerable parachute. Bear in mind, however, that parachute landings are not completely reliable, especially when they are fully automated which is apparently the plan. The reason for having a parachute on X-38 was that engineers thought it would be easier to automate than a lifting-body landing.
David Davenport said:
Indeed, but I bet the Soyuz was cheaper both to design and operate. For one it did not require a whole new launcher (it was yet another R7 rehash).
The Soyuz 1 accident AFAIK was because the whole thing was rushed beyond reason, no testing was done. Compare it with Buran or Shenzhou, where they actually took the trouble to launch an automated mission to test the capsule before any humans were actually launched on it. As for depressurization accidents, that could happen on any space vehicle, the Shuttle is not immune to that. It was also supposed to be operated in a shirt sleeve environment.
I think the problem with space launch is that propulsion and reentry issues have still not been solved properly.
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