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NASA Infighting

An interview with Tom Jones on the subject, over at Popular Mechanics. Note that he doesn't point out that no one ordered Mike Griffin to develop Ares, which is the biggest reason that Orion is delayed and that NASA doesn't have enough funding. He also has too much faith in Orion flying before something else (particularly given the Ares problems). I'm sure we could put up a capsule on an Atlas long before 2014, whether Dragon or something else, if we made it a priority.


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Paul Milenkovic wrote:

If a crewed spacecraft is placed on an EELV, is the Atlas or Delta preferred and why? The "Heavy" version of the EELV to allow a larger spacecraft, or the none-heavy version so you don't have the problem of the Heavy-version parallel stages?

What is the story on the upper stage of the EELV? I heard that these stages are OK for GEO orbit of payloads, but for NEO launch of people they are underpowered and require "lofted" trajectories" with "abort blackout" zones. What is the story on that? Would the 2-engine versions of the upper stage work, or does a 2-engine upper stage increase the chance of an engine outage and the thing veering off course?

In other words, forget about the "human rating" aspects of either EELV -- one could always spend money on qualifying them the same as done with the old Atlas and Titan-II. And forget about the launch payload limits as the current high weight of the Orion is pie-in-the-sky anyway and in theory one would make the spacecraft small enough to get into space. My question is mainly about whether the architecture and engine thrust on the EELV's could do the job, or if there are some show stoppers on why their engines cannot be human rated or about the lofted trajector and abort blackout zone thing.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Atlas has no problems, but the upper stage of the Delta is underpowered, and has some abort blackout zones where the entry gees would injure or kill crew.

Brock wrote:

Just testing the "Remember personal info?" checkbox again, not that it's worked before. I think it's there just to fool me.

Oh, and go Falcon 9! Let's make NASA look even stupider!

George Skinner wrote:

Atlas V uses Russian engines - isn't that going to be an issue if relations with Russia deteriorate further?

Mike Puckett wrote:

Proable stupid idea but could the upper stage of the stick be used as an upper stage on the Delta IV heavy without insane mods?

Would it be able to loft if and what would the performance be?

Rand Simberg wrote:

Atlas V uses Russian engines - isn't that going to be an issue if relations with Russia deteriorate further?

ULA has about a three-year supply at current rates. That's long enough for P&W to set up a domestic production line.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Proable stupid idea but could the upper stage of the stick be used as an upper stage on the Delta IV heavy without insane mods?

Neither the upper stage or the upper-stage engines of the Shaft exist.

Brock wrote:

Completely off-topic: Arg! Fooled again! Damn you, "Remember personal info?" checkbox!

Kind of on-topic: I much prefer "the Shaft" to "the Stick."

Mike Puckett wrote:

I understand that Rand, I am asking conceptually if that would close the blackout zones.

It strikes me, a non-engineer, that the Delta IV could do a helluva lot better for LEO stuff if it had a beefier second stage.

The heavy version looks to my layman eyes to be underpowered in its current upper stage.

Mike Puckett wrote:

I guess what I am asking if a hybrid Delta IV heavy/Stick would be doable as a political face saving move?

Paul Milenkovic wrote:

How do the Delta IV and the Atlas V upper stages differ? I thought both of them were a single RL-10 expander cycle LH2-LO2 engine, upgraded since the early days, but limited in thrust by how expander cycle engines work by boiling their propellant to power their turbopumps. I also thought that a two RL-10 version of the upper stage exists for Atlas V -- not for Delta IV?

Rand Simberg wrote:

The Atlas V can use either single or double RL-10s (it's a Centaur) depending on the mission. The Delta upper stage is single engine, full stop. It's basically the Delta III upper stage. The only difference between the various Deltas is the first stage, not the second...

ken anthony wrote:

The answer is right in front of everyone's nose. Let the Russians run the station during the gap. Stop the shuttle right when it's scheduled to stop. There's no need to have an American on the ISS. Any other country that expected the shuttle to take them can make a deal with the Russians or not.

Things go as fast as they go. There is no need for hand-wringing here. We just need to get our act together and not let this happen in the future.

Five year gap? So what. Actually, I fully expect SpaceX will fill the gap earlier. If not, again so what?

No kidding there was a failure of leadership here. So we're going to double down? Does that show leadership?

Habitat Hermit wrote:

That's sensible in many ways but what if the Soyuz fails when it's the only human access? Evacuate it and then what?

ken anthony wrote:


I think your question answers itself. Regardless of the chain of events we need to just continue forward.

The bad idea is to go into a panic and waste resources.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 12, 2008 11:11 AM.

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